The Hour of Mercy: Absalom and the Prodigal Son

Originally written in May 2009:

Absalom was taken up and cast into a deep pit in the forest, and a very large mound of stones was erected over him. And all the Israelites fled to their own tents.   During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it for himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to perpetuate my name.” The pillar which he named for himself is called Yadabshalom to the present day. 
Then Ahimaaz, son of Zadok, said, “Let me run to take the good news to the king that the LORD has set him free from the grasp of his enemies.”
But Joab said to him: “You are not the man to bring the news today. On some other day you may take the good news, but today you would not be bringing good news, for in fact the king’s son is dead.” . . .

Now David was sitting between the two gates, and a lookout mounted to the roof of the gate above the city wall, where he looked about and saw a man running all alone.  The lookout shouted to inform the king, who said, “If he is alone, he has good news to report.” As he kept coming nearer, the lookout spied another runner. From his place atop the gate he cried out, “There is another man running by himself.” And the king responded, “He, too, is bringing good news.”  . . .
But the king asked, “Is the youth Absalom safe?” And Ahimaaz replied, “I saw a great disturbance when the king’s servant Joab sent your servant on, but I do not know what it was.”. . .
When the Cushite came in, he said, “Let my lord the king receive the good news that this day the LORD has taken your part, freeing you from the grasp of all who rebelled against you.”
But the king asked the Cushite, “Is young Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you with evil intent be as that young man!”
The king was shaken, and went up to the room over the city gate to weep. He said as he wept, “My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”
Joab was told that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom; and that day’s victory was turned into mourning for the whole army when they heard that the king was grieving for his son. 
. . .
Meanwhile the king covered his face and cried out in a loud voice, “My son Absalom! Absalom! My son, my son!”  (1 Sam 18:17-19:5).

Scott Roeder likely turned to his “prayers” and said, “God, George Tiller, your son who rebelled against you, is dead.”

And God wept and said, “O George! O George! George my son is dead!”

11 And he said: A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his substance. 13 And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country: and there wasted his substance, living riotously. 14 And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. 17 And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father’s house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger? 18 I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: 19 I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son. 22 And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: 24 Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing:

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him: Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. 29 And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. 32 But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found.  (Luke 15:11-32)

“My name is Mercy,” he said to St. Faustina.

Of all the Names we give Him, that is most truly His Name.  That is what the name Jesus means: YHWH Saves.  God is love. 

Even the Tetragrammaton itself speaks to God’s love, as the Medievals realized.  The problem with Aristotelian Deism is that it leaves out the basic question of philosophy: “WHY?”

The Deist asks why the universe is the way it is, how the universe came be, etc.  The Deist finds the answer to those questions in God.  Then the Deist formulates, more or less, the Aristotelian God.

Aristotle, who seems to equate God with the Universe, says God is the Prime Mover, the first cause that started everything in motion.  God is also the Unmoved Mover, becaues God would not be God if something moved Him first.  God is also Being itself,”being qua being,” since God has to transcend existence.  God is also in a state of perpetuation self-reflection.

“His mind is enaged in a rapt contemplation of the thought of the thought of the thought of his name,” says T. S. Eliot, paraphrasing Aristotle.

The problem with the Deistic Unmoved Mover is that it explains why the universe exists, but it doesn’t explain why the universe exists.

OK, God made it.  But why would a disinterested, self-contained, unmoved God create the Universe to begin with.

Boethius answered that (anyone know why he isn’t a saint yet?) .

God, said Boethius,  is “That than which nothing greater can be conceived.”  Another rephrasing of “being qua being“, which is itself a third person rephrasing of “I AM THAT I AM.” 


Like people who contracept so they can have ski trips and big screen tvs and McMansions and a yuppie lifestyle, God could have just as well sat back and dissolved into an eternal existence of self-gratification.

However, like the person who “has it all” and finds it empty in worldly terms, God literally “has it all” .

While watching Disney’s Aladdin , I thought about a Twilight Zone episode where a man finds a magic bottle.  He wishes for money, and finds it empty.  He wishes for women, and finds that empty, too.  He wants real joy.  There’s a pause after he decides on his wish.  At the ending, a man is walking along and finds the magic bottle.  He rubs it. 

Our hero appears.  His wish was that he could be the genie and help people by granting their wishes.

That’s why God made us.  God made us to love us. 

His Name is Mercy.

He doesn’t “need” us.  We give Him absolutely nothing.

But He does need us.  He needs us so He can give us everything.  And since we get everything from Him, and He is “sixpence none the richer” for knowing us, what *we* can give Him in return is the totality of our love.

God gives all His love out of His Perfection, and we give all our love out of our poverty.

Samuel 19 goes on to relate how the officers are furious with King David: they have just restored him to the throne from a rebellion.  Their soldiers and officers have died.  They feel insulted that David has chosen to mourn the traitor Absalom rather than celebrate with his surviving sons and his lords and officers.

This real incident involving the King After God’s Own Heart is a kind of inverse of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: both show the father’s unconditional love, expressed with different circumstances.

But those of us who stand by, realizing we have our own areas of rebellion, but generally trying to do our best to serve Our Father, and to give all our love to Him, feel resentful that He seems to lavish so much attention on the lost sheep and just leaves the rest of us penned up.

Mercy is His Name.

He forgives.  That’s what He does.  He loves us.  That’s why He made us. 

He wants us to repent and be forgiven.

He cries infinite tears when we don’t. 

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting.

16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. 18 He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. 20 For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved.

I carry a lot of bitter memories.  They shape who I am.  But I try not to carry bitterness.  It occurred to me some time last year how I tend to confuse righteous anger with self-indignation, that I used to think it was OK to be resentful about insults against me if they were tied to some other insult aganist God.  I realized last fall that I had to shed that way of thinking. 
Then I reread The Way of Perfection this spring and found St. Teresa saying the same thing.

My heart aches for all the Absaloms in my life, and those I know of in the world.  I don’t see how anyone who is a Christian could justify murder or torture.  It pains me that people who claim to be Christians go to such lengths to do so.

I don’t see how anyone who has heard the testimony of Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”), or Sandra Cano (“Doe”), or Dr. Bernard Nathanson (the founder of NARAL) or Dr. John Bruchalski (not a former abortionist but a former member of the clinic that pioneered in vitro fertilization in the US, and researched several contraceptives), and then say that killing abortionists is the right thing to do.

How can anyone hear Fr. Corapi’s story and think any soul is beyond saving?

How can anyone read the New Testament and think that?  St. Paul!

We cannot believe that any heart is too hard to be broken.  God has shown us that.  To think that is to commit the sin against the Holy Spirit.

My heart is shattered to bits as I think of the Absaloms in my life.  I pray for their returns.  Jesus gave St. Faustina a simple prayer.  He promised her that anyone for whom that prayer was said, devoutly, would not be lost.  That if you pray that prayer devoutly for some person who has strayed from the Church, that, even if it’s only at the moment of death, that person will be brought into a state of grace before death.

For the abortionists:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For those who have had abortions or are considering them:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For those who do violence in God’s Name:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For terrorists:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For torturers:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For Fr. Cutie, and for all priests who break their vows:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For all priests who engage in sexual abuse:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For all those who have strayed from the Church and from their families:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For all those in need of God’s mercy:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

For all those in my family who have strayed or who struggle:
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fountain of Mercy for Us, I trust in You.”

2 responses to “The Hour of Mercy: Absalom and the Prodigal Son

  1. Pingback: The Hour of Mercy: Absalom and the Prodigal Son | The Lewis Crusade | The Legend of Aladdin

  2. Pingback: Pope Francis and Fred Phelps | The Lewis Crusade

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