Bulletin – July 2017

July 2017
“So the faith was planted: so must it be restored”
Eight Pond Place – Oyster Bay, NY 11771

Confidence in the Midst of Trials
Taken from a sermon by The Most Rev. Clarence Kelly
Copyright © 2005 The Most Rev. Clarence Kelly

The lesson which the Church would teach us on the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost is the lesson of confidence in God. It is not a lesson of confidence in God when things go right and all is fine. Rather, it is a lesson of confidence in God in the midst of trials, in the face of temptations, amidst our crosses and our labors. The Apostles had gone fishing and had caught nothing. Upon their return, they were greeted by Our Lord. In effect He said to them: “Let’s go fishing.” St. Luke words it this way: “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch. And Simon, answering, said to Him: Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing, but at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes; . . . . Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’s knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:4-8)

At this time of year, as well, the lessons in the Roman Breviary are taken from the first Book of Kings where we read about David and Goliath. Saul was the first King of Israel. David was the second. Because Saul did not trust in God but was both disobedient and proud, God took the kingdom from him and chose David to succeed him. David was the youngest son of Jesse. God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David. This he did in the presence of David’s family. From that day on, the spirit of God departed from Saul and rested on David.

Not too long after David’s anointing, the Philistines, seeking to renew their war against Israel, assembled an army “on the slope of a mountain while Saul drew up his army in a similar position, in such a way that they were separated only by a valley with a mountain stream.” [Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, O.S.B., The Saint Andrew Daily Missal (Great Falls Montana: St. Bonaventure Publications, 1999), p. 798.] Then the Philistines sent out a great warrior to challenge Israel. It was Goliath, the giant. He had “‘a helmet of brass upon his head and he was clothed with a coat of mail. And he had greaves of brass on his legs [that is, armor covering his legs from the knees to the ankles] and a buckler of brass covered his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred sicles of iron. And standing he cried out to the bands of Israel and said to them: ‘Am I not a Philistine and you the servants of Saul? Choose out a man of you and let him come down and fight hand to hand. If he be able to fight with me and kill me we will be servants to you; but if I prevail against him, and kill him, you shall be servants, and shall serve us.’ And Saul and all the Israelites hearing these words of the Philistines were dismayed and greatly afraid.'” [Ibid., p. 798, 1 Kings 17.] This challenge went on for forty days. Each morning and evening Goliath would come out and renew it, thus humiliating the Hebrews twice a day, for no man of Israel had courage enough to fight Goliath.

It was at that point in time that David visited the camp of Saul, for he had brothers in the army and had come to visit them and to bring them food. When David heard the challenge of Goliath and saw that not one Israelite had courage enough to take up the challenge, he said: “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Kings 17:26) After that David was brought into the presence of King Saul. He said to Saul: “Let not any man’s heart be dismayed in him: I thy servant will go, and will fight against the Philistine. . . . And Saul said to David: Go, and the Lord be with thee.” (1 Kings 17:32-37) So David went out to meet Goliath in mortal combat. He had with him his shepherd’s staff and a sling. Sacred Scripture says: “And he took his staff, which he had always in his hands: and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them into the shepherd’s scrip, which he had with him, and he took a sling in his hand, and went forth against the Philistine.” (1 Kings 17:40)

When Goliath saw the boy David coming out to meet him in combat, he was enraged. He said to David: “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with a staff.” (1 Kings17:43) He cursed David and threatened him with what Goliath believed was David’s impending death. But David trusted in God and said to Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which thou hast defied. This day . . . the Lord will deliver thee into my hand, and I will slay thee, and take away thy head from thee: and I will give the carcasses of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air, and to the beasts of the earth: that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know, that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for it is his battle, and he will deliver you into our hands.” (1 Kings 17:45-47) Goliath then began his attack, and David ran to meet him. As he did, he pulled out one of the stones from his pouch and put it into his sling. He whirled it around and around, and then let go of the stone. Through the air it sped – like a bullet. The stone sailed with great force right to its target. It struck Goliath in his forehead so that it “was fixed in his forehead, and he fell on his face upon the earth.” (1 Kings 17:49) David took Goliath’s sword and slew him, cutting off his head. “And the Philistines seeing that their champion was dead, fled away.” (1 Kings 17:51)

In this historical account of David’s battle with Goliath, there is great significance, symbolism, and meaning. David is, of course, a figure for Christ, the Good Shepherd, Who goes out to meet in mortal combat the devil who is symbolized in the historical figure Goliath. In the five stones we see the five wounds of Christ, for by the wounds of Christ, the devil is defeated. In the stone that struck Goliath in his forehead and brought him down, we see the special wound of Christ. We see the wound in His sacred side which opened His Sacred Heart so that there came out blood and water, which stood for the Holy Eucharist and Baptism by which the devil is vanquished. We also see in that smooth stone a figure for Christ Himself Who is the rock of our salvation. In David’s crossing of the brook, we see Christ on Holy Thursday night crossing the Brook of Cedron on His way to Gethsemane which was the beginning of His great combat with the forces of evil in His Passion and Death. In David’s wooden staff, which he carried as he went out to meet Goliath, we see Christ’s wooden Cross, which He carried to Calvary where He defeated the devil and his legions. In the victory of David over Goliath, we see the victory of Christ over Satan.

But there is more. For at the same time in the account of David’s victory, we see a pattern for our own victory in the midst of our trials and conflicts. At times these are of Goliath proportions, at least from a subjective point of view. Indeed, we have the example of David’s confidence, and Peter’s lack of confidence in the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, to teach us the same lesson. It is the lesson that we must trust in God in the midst of all our trials. If we do, we shall not be confounded. Our Lord explained this to St. Margaret Mary. He said that His Heart was a treasure chest of grace and the key with which it was opened was our confidence. Let us then resolve to put all our trust in Him through the intercession of Our Lady, and we will not be confounded. As the Introit of the Mass for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost puts it: “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened and have fallen. If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.”

Back to Bulletins