Yesterday’s first reading at Mass was the exciting story of David and Goliath. It follows the classic plotline of the heroic little guy who defeats the baddie with his secret weapon. The plotline of the “secret Son” is something I outlined in my book Immortal Combat–it is the plotline that teaches over and over again through all the world’s great stories that small is beautiful, that the humility of the little one overcomes the gigantic plans of the mighty. It is the song of Mary’s Magnificat, the theme of the sagas of the Old Testament, and the Hebrews’ unique contribution to world mythology. The Greeks and Romans had their godlike superheroes–mighty men of valor. The Hebrews offered the world a tribe of wandering nomads, shepherds, little people–peasants–boys and girls, and in making them the heroes they gave the world the wonderful hero–the underdog. From then on the little people would be the winners. The victims would be the victors.
I have gone off on a tangent. There was much in this ancient story that caught my mind and my heart, but one of the other themes is David’s treatment of his enemy–the giant Goliath. Jesus the Son of David tells us to love our enemy. His ancestor David didn’t think so. He strode out to battle full of confidence telling Goliath that he would feed him to the birds.
As we read the Divine Office day by day this emphasis on battle with our enemies echoes again and again. In Zechariah’s song it echoes with thanks that our enemy is defeated. In the psalms it echoes time and again. The Lord is called on to defeat our enemies. The psalmist laments that the Lord has abandoned him to his enemies.
In the midst of our mandated meekness and Our Lord’s command to love our enemies I would stress that this command is not absolute. There are enemies we are not expected to love. We do not love Satan. We do not love the minions of Satan. We do not love evildoers. We fight them. We do battle. We engage in spiritual warfare.
We battle first of all the evil in our own hearts and lives. We strive with the heroic confidence and courage of the boy David to overcome the giants of Rage, Revenge and Resentment. We do battle against the horde of Philistines called Greed, Lust, Sloth, Pride and Power.
What are our weapons? David went down to the brook to select five smooth stones. We go down to the waters of baptism where the grace is found to do the battle. Different commentators have seen the five stones as symbols of different weapons in the battle: Faith, Obedience, Prayer, Service and the Holy Spirit for instance. I’m seeing the five as the mysteries in each set of the Holy Rosary–and ultimately the five wounds of Our Lord by whose passion the great victory of the world’s Goliath was won.
Go here for information on my book Praying the Rosary for Spiritual Warfare.