VATICAN CITY — In his daily homily for Monday, Pope Francis spoke of the proper attitudes to have when Christians face difficult moments, stating that it is important not to defend one’s sin, but to repent and trust in the Lord.
“In the difficult moments of life that occur, maybe in despair one tries to defend himself as he can and also to use God and to use his people,” the Pope explained in his Feb. 3 daily Mass.
Centering his homily on the first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, the Holy Father addressed those present in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, highlighting David’s attitude in light of the “great betrayal” of his beloved son Absalom.
Recalling how David chooses to flee when he hears that his people have given up their loyalty to him and transferred it to Absalom, the Pope drew attention to the king’s sadness at feeling “as if this child” of his “was dead."
However, in the midst of David’s sadness, the Pope asked, how does David react to “this betrayal of his son?” The Holy Father noted that the king had three different attitudes in the situation.
Love of God and Penance
As “a man of government,” the king understood that if he waged war on his son, many would die, so he “makes the choice not to kill his people,” Pope Francis said.
“David — this is the first attitude — to defend himself uses neither God nor his people, and this signifies love of a king for his God and his people,” he explained.
“A king [who is a] sinner; we know the story,” stated the Pope, adding that Christians also see in this passage that David is “a king with love so great: He was so attached to his God and so attached to his people that he did not use either God or his people to defend himself.”
Oftentimes, Christians are tempted to use either God or others to defend themselves in difficulty, continued the Holy Father, but “not [David],” adding that “the first attitude is this: not using God and his people.”
Calling to mind how David climbed the mountain with his officials, Pope Francis noted that he was both “crying” and “with his head covered and walking barefoot,” which is a sign of “repentance.”
“This ascent to the mountain makes us think of that other ascent of Jesus,” who “was also grieved, walked barefoot,” and “with his cross, he went up the mountain,” reflected the Pope.
Stating that with this “penitential attitude …David agreed to be in mourning and weeps,” the Pope explained that “we, when something like that happens in our lives, always try … to justify ourselves.”
“It is an instinct we have,” he said, observing that “David does not justify himself: He is realistic, tries to save the Ark of God, his people and do penance for that path.”
“He is great: a great sinner and a great saint,” Pope Francis said. “How are those two things together ... God knows!”
Trust in the Lord
Recalling how, on their way up the mountain, a man called Simei began to curse and throw stones at David and his officials, calling David a murderer, the Holy Father drew attention to how the king refuses to let his servant kill the man.
Instead of “choosing revenge against so many insults,” David chooses “to entrust himself to God” and that “maybe the Lord will look on my affliction and make me good in exchange for his cursing today.”
Therefore, the third attitude of David in the face of his betrayal is to trust in the Lord, the Pope revealed, explaining that these attitudes can also help Christians in moments of difficulty and trial.
“It's beautiful to feel this and see these three attitudes,” the Holy Father said: “a man who loves God, loves his people and does not negotiate; a man who knows he is a sinner and does penance; a man who is sure of his God and trusts in him.”
“David is holy, and we venerate him as a saint,” concluded the Holy Father, so “we ask him to teach us these attitudes in the difficult moments of our lives.”