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A Song of Repentance

A Song of Repentance

Today we hear Nathan confront David about his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.

Psalm 51, which is the response for this morning’s liturgy, is reputedly the prayer of repentance of King David when he was confronted with these two sins. The verses of the psalm which are chosen for today’s liturgy convey David’s sense of guilt as well as his repentance.

He asks God to “create” in him a clean heart.  The Hebrew word for “create” is bara, a verb that is only used in Hebrew when the subject is God.  Only God can “create” what David seeks.  As he makes this prayer, we also understand that he knows that only God can forgive him for the terrible things that he has done.

As is the case in most psalms of lamentation, we also hear the psalmist moving forward.  In this case, David not only laments his guilt, he promises to teach others to praise God if only he can recover some of his lost innocence.  This promise is a fair indication that David realizes that God’s forgiveness is not only a gift, but it is also a responsibility.  When God forgives, the penitent’s only way to express gratitude is by doing something in return.  Since God has no need for anything, the penitent can only respond by fulfilling the needs of others; in this case, David proposes that he share his own faith in God with others and lead them to a right relationship with God.

Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are reconciled with God.  Like David, we too must respond to show our gratitude for the gift of forgiveness.  What better way to give thanks than to share our faith with others so that they can come to know God’s reconciling love!

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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