What Keeps You Up At Night?

Three o’clock. That’s when they usually come, the gremlins that wake me from my sleep and dance around my bed, reminding me of all the things I don’t want to think about. Three o’clock in the morning, and the beautiful wide world has shrunk to this small room and all the voices from my past echoing off its walls.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a terrible person, not in the great scheme of things. I’ve never murdered or stolen or done any of the offenses that society judges as dire; but then again, I have a different judge, don’t I? And at three o’clock, the judgment is pretty grim.

I have on occasion not only hurt someone, but hurt them deliberately. I have failed to listen, to reach out, to be as compassionate as I’m called to be. I’ve missed opportunities to bring the Good News of Christ to someone when those opportunities have presented themselves. I’ve been selfish, vain, and short-sighted. Most of the time I balance all this with the times I have been kind, have gone out of my way to help others, have taken a stand. But not at three o’clock. Only the bad memories, the failures, the transgressions appear at three o’clock.

When I looked up today’s readings, I winced. Oh, no: the story of David and Bathsheba and Uriah. I don’t like this story. I want God’s chosen leader to be a good man, a man I can admire and respect, a man of principle and conscience, and instead I see someone willing to kill another human being just so he can essentially take that man’s wife. I’ll write about the Gospel instead, I decided; the parable of the mustard seed is far easier to get behind.

But as I thought about it, I realized God has so much to teach us through this story, and maybe if I’m a little less judgmental I might be able to listen to it—and hear something. The lesson starts in the first few lines: the spring has come, and it’s time to go to war. David’s whole past has been military, ever since as a teenager he killed a giant of a man and secured his fame; but this spring, instead of leading his troops, he sends them out without him. Maybe he was feeling lazy. Maybe it doesn’t matter what he was feeling. I’m the king; I can do whatever I like. But leading his men was his responsibility, and one of the first steps we take away from God is when we shrug off our responsibilities. It’s been said that 80% of life is just showing up, and this spring, David didn’t show up. My middle-of-the-night gremlins are quick to remind me of all the times I haven’t shown up, too. Made excuses; made rationalizations. I’m tired; I’m busy; I can do whatever I like. So far, this story is hitting very close to home.

Despite having been cautioned against it in Deuteronomy, David has also catered to his more carnal side. After a teenage marriage that failed, he started marrying—and also not marrying—quite a substantial number of women. So it’s little surprise that when he watches Bathsheba taking advantage of the coolness of the evening to bathe, he decides he wants her, too; and what the king wants, the king gets.

I’ve also indulged some of my whims. Money that could have gone to help people in dire need has been spent on things I wanted: books, clothing, gadgets, oh and did I mention books? I didn’t need any of it; but I catered to my desires anyway. Don’t be so quick to judge David, the gremlins whisper.

Bathsheba didn’t have much recourse. She’s often cast as a temptress, but it’s hard for me to see her at fault here. The king sends for you; you go. There were a number of possible solutions to this problem that wouldn’t have involved killing anyone, but David’s first thought is to send Uriah into battle—the battle he himself couldn’t be bothered to fight—and make sure he’s killed.

He went for the easiest, most immediate solution. He didn’t take time to think about it, pray about it, get advice. And it’s times like that when my impulses have gotten me into trouble, too. When I’ve panicked and looked for the quick and easy way out. When thoughtful consideration and prayer would have shown me a better solution.

Today’s reading ends with Uriah’s murder. But the untold part of the story, I think, is the most important: David finally got it. He realized the magnitude of what he’d been doing. He became estranged from God and depressed. He later wrote three psalms describing those months out of fellowship with God: Psalms 32, 38 and 51. Read them, and you’ll realize how deeply he got it. He, too, had gremlins haunting him at night.

That brings us to the happy certainty of forgiveness. David will finally acknowledge his sin. His spirit was broken; his heart was contrite. And as a result, he will hear the sweetest, most beautiful, most reassuring, most encouraging words known to humanity: “The Lord has removed your sin” (2 Sam. 12:13).

My gremlins are still there, because I’m a lot slower to forgive myself than God is. I remember once going to confession; at the end, the priest said, “You’re all set.” I loved that phrase and remind myself of it when memories and sadness and fear keep me up at night. You’re all set; the Lord has removed your sin.

 And I pray to be able to take God at his word. To tell the gremlins: You can go away now.

Like everything else in life, that’s a work in progress.

Contact the author

Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at http://www.pauline.org.

Friday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Sm 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17

At the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign,
David sent out Joab along with his officers
and the army of Israel,
and they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.
David, however, remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David rose from his siesta
and strolled about on the roof of the palace.
From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful.
David had inquiries made about the woman and was told,
“She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam,
and wife of Joab’s armor bearer Uriah the Hittite.”
Then David sent messengers and took her.
When she came to him, he had relations with her.
She then returned to her house.
But the woman had conceived,
and sent the information to David, “I am with child.”

David therefore sent a message to Joab,
“Send me Uriah the Hittite.”
So Joab sent Uriah to David.
When he came, David questioned him about Joab, the soldiers,
and how the war was going, and Uriah answered that all was well.
David then said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and bathe your feet.”  
Uriah left the palace,
and a portion was sent out after him from the king’s table.
But Uriah slept at the entrance of the royal palace
with the other officers of his lord, and did not go down
to his own house.
David was told that Uriah had not gone home.
On the day following, David summoned him,
and he ate and drank with David, who made him drunk.
But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his bed
among his lord’s servants, and did not go down to his home.
The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab
which he sent by Uriah.
In it he directed:
“Place Uriah up front, where the fighting is fierce.
Then pull back and leave him to be struck down dead.”
So while Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah
to a place where he knew the defenders were strong.
When the men of the city made a sortie against Joab,
some officers of David’s army fell,
and among them Uriah the Hittite died.

Responsorial Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6a, 6bcd-7, 10-11

R.    (see 3a)  Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
I have done such evil in your sight
that you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty,
a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness;
the bones you have crushed shall rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins,
and blot out all my guilt.
R.    Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Alleluia Mt 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.



For the readings of the Memorial of Saint John Bosco, please go here.

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Let Your Little Light Shine

Today’s Gospel Reading always reminds me of the song “This Little Light of Mine” that many of us learned as children. Jesus seems to be using a bit of sarcasm here. ‘Seriously, people, you have this amazing truth within you, and you’re just going to hide it away?’ (“Hide it under a bushel, NO!”) Place it on a lampstand! Proclaim it to the world! (“Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!”)

As I was praying the USCCB’s novena, “9 Days For Life” this past week, I came across this simple line: “Smile. Ask God today for the grace to be extra joyful and to share the light of Christ with those most in need of His love and mercy.” Such a simple concept but something as small as a smile can make a difference in someone’s day. When we bite our tongue instead of letting that negative comment slip, when we compliment instead of criticizing, we are making our world a better place, one “little light” at a time.

Jesus goes on to say, “Take care what you hear.”
“Whatever goes in must come out” does not only refer to our digestive system, but to our brains as well. The movies and shows we watch, the podcasts and music we listen to, and the news and blogs we read all impact our thoughts, words and actions. It is increasingly easy to become so overwhelmed by information, albeit, most of it negative, that we find ourselves becoming negative as well. The latest winter weather advisory fills us with worry. The latest conflict overseas fills us with anxiety. The latest tragedy fills us with sorrow. The latest injustice fills us with anger…

Where is the light in all of this? Where is our smile? It appears that the most logical solution is to do exactly what Jesus says: “Take care what you hear.” Do we really need to know Congress’s every move, or could we rather pay more focused attention to the needs of those around us each and every day? Do we really need to watch the newest war movie that is all the rage, or could we rather be more attentive to the war raging within our very being, inviting us to leave our unnecessary desires aside and deepen our relationship with our loving God instead?

Each and every time we make that effort to be more Christ-like, to go the extra mile to be kind, to not join in the gossip, to make a sacrifice for the good of another, we are promised ample reward. “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.” In other words, God will not be outdone in generosity. You give an inch and He gives you a mile.

So let’s keep that beautifully simple song running through minds and hearts today. May our little lights shine so as to brighten the lives of those around us.

Contact the author

Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

Thursday of the Third Wek in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Sm 7:18-19, 24-29

After Nathan had spoken to King David,
the king went in and sat before the LORD and said,
“Who am I, Lord GOD, and who are the members of my house,
that you have brought me to this point?
Yet even this you see as too little, Lord GOD;
you have also spoken of the house of your servant
for a long time to come:
this too you have shown to man, Lord GOD!

“You have established for yourself your people Israel as yours forever,
and you, LORD, have become their God.
And now, LORD God, confirm for all time the prophecy you have made
concerning your servant and his house,
and do as you have promised.
Your name will be forever great, when men say,
‘The LORD of hosts is God of Israel,’
and the house of your servant David stands firm before you.
It is you, LORD of hosts, God of Israel,
who said in a revelation to your servant,
‘I will build a house for you.’
Therefore your servant now finds the courage to make this prayer to you.
And now, Lord GOD, you are God and your words are truth;
you have made this generous promise to your servant.
Do, then, bless the house of your servant
that it may be before you forever;
for you, Lord GOD, have promised,
and by your blessing the house of your servant
shall be blessed forever.”

Responsorial Psalm 132:1-2, 3-5, 11, 12, 13-14

R.    (Lk 1:32b)  The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.
LORD, remember David
and all his anxious care;
How he swore an oath to the LORD,
vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob.
R.    The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.
“I will not enter the house where I live,
nor lie on the couch where I sleep;
I will give my eyes no sleep,
my eyelids no rest,
Till I find a home for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
R.    The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.
The LORD swore an oath to David
a firm promise from which he will not withdraw:
“Your own offspring
I will set upon your throne.”
R.    The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.
“If your sons keep my covenant,
and the decrees which I shall teach them,
Their sons, too, forever
shall sit upon your throne.”
R.    The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.
For the LORD has chosen Zion,
he prefers her for his dwelling:
“Zion is my resting place forever;
in her I will dwell, for I prefer her.”
R.    The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.

Alleluia Ps 119:105

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket
or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible;
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.