This is one of my all-time favorite miracle stories. I often use it as a sermon for children because they can relate to the pure excitement of a child their own age. It is about a little boy who ran home and told his mother, “Jesus and I made a miracle today”. Yet, there is nothing childish about the story or by extension the readings for today. The Old Testament is definitely rated X, and the Epistle can be rated R and the Gospel could be rated PG.
In the today’s readings we learned how David struggled as a leader who lacks the moral courage to balance his power and his sacred duties as king. The duplicity used in gaining his position continue to plague him as he sits on his throne. He now begins to realize that in ‘shaking off the tools of his trade”, honesty, fairness, respect for the laws of God, and for his people, he has lost the fear of God. David failed to understand that his worldly power could not replace God’s power and because of this lack of understanding, collateral damage is caused by his hand; lies are told, a child would eventually suffer, a marriage is destroyed, a man loses his life and a loyal general loses his integrity. God’s miracle is to make something of value out of the carnage created by the mental and emotional instability of a man called to greatness. My friends, aren’t we living in similar times; where are leaders disregard the law and take advantage of power and of women?
It is the similar situation which Jesus faced when he approached Phillip with the challenge to go beyond Phillips support of His simply delivering sermons and to Jesus’ reaching out to his followers and feeding them. Jesus wanted to touch these people by feeding them physically and spiritually. Phillip possibly didn’t see this as Jesus’ responsibility to care for the physical needs of the followers. Maybe he was just overwhelmed by the thought of being responsible for more than a chosen few. Or maybe he was captured by the spirit which even today in our time takes hold and has us tell our friends, neighbors and family, “You need to be on your own. You need to care for yourself.” There are many of us who thrive in small settings and may prefer to be alone. This selfishness is a hurdle to overcome in order for the church to grow. Like King David, we become selfish and afraid of the responsibilities given to us by God. We establish artificial relationships on Instagram and Facebook. We think we are important because we have one thousand hits on Instagram or five-thousand Facebook friends. These people don’t know us. God knows us. Jesus knows us. We are our bothers keepers!!! We cannot forget this.
It is that same spirit of togetherness or oneness in which St. Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians. There were two distinct groups struggling to find a way to God’s kingdom. The Jewish Christians were convinced that it was their responsibility to guard the faith from the unclean and unworthy. The gentile Christians were struggling with a heritage of being locked out from experiencing the fullness of God. In other words, some were struggling to keep people out while others were struggling with the hopelessness of ever being accepted. Paul preaches a message describing Jesus as a bridge for those who are the gatekeepers and those who are being kept outside of the gates, “I am now the gate through which all can now enter into the very presence of God.“ In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul states, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with the all the fullness of God.” The key here is All God’s people. This is nothing short of revolutionary.
We now dwell in a world where exclusivity becomes a badge of honor. We revel in our exclusive status which may be under the banner of race, color or class. Based on the State Farm Insurance ad, we love our “she-sheds and man-caves”. But, we also see the power in a collective voice. The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and now, the Me-Too movement have changed laws and changed basic cultural beliefs. One voice may be lost in the wind. Bathsheba didn’t go looking for David. He took her from her husband, and it was Bathsheba who suffered.
Jesus preaches a revolutionary message that draws us into community. We become partners in healthy relationships so that there would be no need for Bathsheba to suffer, no need for people to starve as they search for Christ’s love. Women would be respected and honored, children would become important partners in the kingdom building process. We become willing to share in the God given resources of the world and food would be available to all. God is the love that bridges all differences. Jesus started a revolution based upon love through justice. There is no longer room for any exclusive group to lay any greater claim to God’s love or power. There is no King or leader whose rights can or should impinge upon the poor or powerless.
Jesus is love. Jesus is our bridge.