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What’s Mine Is Not Mine

First Reading: 2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17

King David said to Joab and the leaders of the army who were with him,
“Tour all the tribes in Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba
and register the people, that I may know their number.”
Joab then reported to the king the number of people registered:
in Israel, eight hundred thousand men fit for military service;
in Judah, five hundred thousand.

Afterward, however, David regretted having numbered the people,
and said to the LORD:
“I have sinned grievously in what I have done.
But now, LORD, forgive the guilt of your servant,
for I have been very foolish.”
When David rose in the morning,
the LORD had spoken to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying:
“Go and say to David, ‘This is what the LORD says:
I offer you three alternatives;
choose one of them, and I will inflict it on you.’”
Gad then went to David to inform him.
He asked: “Do you want a three years’ famine to come upon your land,
or to flee from your enemy three months while he pursues you,
or to have a three days’ pestilence in your land?
Now consider and decide what I must reply to him who sent me.”
David answered Gad: “I am in very serious difficulty.
Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful;
but let me not fall by the hand of man.”
Thus David chose the pestilence.
Now it was the time of the wheat harvest
when the plague broke out among the people.
The LORD then sent a pestilence over Israel
from morning until the time appointed,
and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba died.
But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it,
the LORD regretted the calamity
and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people,
“Enough now! Stay your hand.”
The angel of the LORD was then standing
at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking the people,
he said to the LORD: “It is I who have sinned;
it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong.
But these are sheep; what have they done?
Punish me and my kindred.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (see 5c) Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.

Gospel: Mark 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

NAB

feb 3
This is an odd and somewhat disturbing First Reading, isn’t it? Why on earth would God want to punish David for taking a census? Why does David think he’s sinned so gravely?

The short answer: in those days, it was understood that a man could only count what he rightfully owned. And King David knew that these citizens were not actually “his;” they were God’s. But David became self-righteous enough to claim them for himself—and we see where that got him.

It’s a good lesson for us in this consumer-driven day and age. I’ve often heard that everything we have comes from God, but usually don’t apply it past the abstract notion that “God provides.”

Yet it’s not an abstract concept, it’s a literal one. Literally everything we own, big or small, we have because of God. It’s not something we can rightfully claim as strictly ours, even if we connect it to own hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. Our possessions and the people we love are only ours through God’s grace.

Everything.

Our homes.
Our vehicles.
The pillows under our heads.
The flowers in our yard.
That favorite book.
Those perfect jeans.
That degree on the wall.
Those cheap plastic toys.
The meal we just shared.
The credit cards in our wallet.
The investments in the bank.
The animals in our care.
The loved ones we hold dear.
The little ones we rock in the dark.
The tiny souls housed in our wombs.
The very heart that beats in our chest, sustaining us.
Indeed—the entire fragile thread of our very life, from beginning to end.

It’s all God’s. A gift from Him to us.

But how often do we actively recognize that truth? How often do I instead carelessly dismiss so much in front of me, while acquiring more and spending more, like it’s rightfully mine to dispose of as I desire? How often do I share the gifts we’ve been given as generously as my God has shared them with me?

Oh, but how things might change if we lived even one day fully conscious of the truth—that every single aspect of our livelihood is actually a gift from God.

How would it change our lives . . . how would it shape our hearts . . . if we took even one day to really thank Him?

Today, let’s make a list of everything we normally take for granted—whether it’s a snow shovel, our eyesight, water from a faucet, a hug, the mountains on our morning drive—and genuinely thank our generous God from the bottom of our beating hearts.

photo credit

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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