Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In quei giorni...

In those days, when his son Absalom had been killed against his wish, King David cried out "My son, my son, Absalom, my son!"

That is an extremely abridges rendition of the first reading yesterday that I heard in a Dominican-run, Gothic churched, Roman parish.

While thinking about it, I realized that our relationship with God is quite a bit like Absalom's relationship with David. We are the favored children of God who decided that we should rule the land and thus rebelled against our Father. As St. Paul tells us, the wages of sin is death. So after we sinned against him and brought death on our heads, he cried out "My children!"

Just as David restored his succession through Solomon, God restored his Kingdom through his True Son, the Divine Word, Eternal Wisdom.

But, here's the catch: When thinking about it more, it occurred to me that God, the poet, was going beyond this simple typology of "better son replacing worse son and so saving the kingdom." Christ was not only prefigured by Solomon, but in an awesome twist by Absalom himself.

We call Christ the "new Adam," and indeed he is, but he also the "new Absalom." Just as Solomon finally fulfilled the will of his father as a new Absalom, so did Christ too. But it goes deeper. The poetry becomes even plainer. He wasn't just the new Absalom because he was the new Solomon. No, this poetry has to do with who Absalom was, not who Solomon was.

Absalom represents fallen humanity, as I have said before. Christ "became sin" in order to draw us out of our sin. He represents the emphatic "yes" to the Father who has wept over His fallen children. Absalom appealed to the people through his humble leadership, but Christ fulfilled the call to service that makes a king a king. Absalom wanted to be the "judge of the land." Christ came to "judge the living and the dead."

But wait! Don't run away! There are a couple details that all but the most poetic of gods would have left out. Absalom was found by David's soldiers hanging from a tree after being thrown by his own mule. He was not quite dead, so they dispatched him with three spear wounds. Does this sound familiar? Yeah, the son of the king, the "judge" of the people, the humble servant-king, hanging from a tree. They were certainly "looking on him whom they had pierced." Only Christ was the Son of the Eternal King fulfilling the will of his father, not a rebellious son intent on ruling his father's kingdom.

And at the death of this son, it was not the father mourning, but the Son calling out to His Father to forgive those who put him to death and to accept His Spirit.

The similarities are too striking to overlook. Christ is the fulfillment of all the scriptures because they are the Word of God--ergo, the expression of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. His right hand is too apparent in the stories of the Bible. Ever wonder why there were so many stories of sons and fathers? But Absalom's story is one of those that is full of the same anguish and emotion felt at the Crucifixion. A father mourns over a slaughtered son, but the Slaughtered Son brings him back to the Father.


Hieronymus said...

Another similarity is that both Absalom and Our Lord rode on a donkey/mule before being put on the tree.

Nate said...

Right, I forgot to put that in.