23 January 2008 Wednesday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 17, 32-51 David and Goliath
The first reading is the famous story of David and Goliath. David, an unknown shepherd presented himself to the king to ask permission to fight the huge Philistine. King Saul relented, probably thinking how foolish David was. After all, Saul exhausted all means to topple the Philistine army. David’s weapon was a sling shot and a few smooth stones; but he was victorious --- he was able to hit Goliath at his brow and beheaded him with Goliath’s own sword.
Many of us, especially when we were kids, were attracted to this story. Perhaps, it tugs at our own insignificance at the company of someone or something overwhelming or powerful. We literally shrink in the shadows or we get self-conscious when we are at the presence of a dignitary or for many, being with movie stars who seem to be bigger than life when they are on screen. The story resonates to us because like all children’s tales, they speak about our inner turmoils and desires. Cinderella speaks about our poverty and our desires to be rich: as all the other contestants in Wowowee and Dream Academy. David made it possible for us to dream of overcoming the Goliaths in our lives: as all success stories of small businesses becoming huge, someone from an obscure town becoming heroes or national artists.
In our lives, there are Goliaths that overwhelm us: having terminal illnesses, the onset of old age and the feeling of uselessness, a family problem that threatens our reputation and the family bond, a demand from work or from school like a challenging thesis. We think that a person of small stature like us cannot tackle them; and we shrink in fear. Some of us easily give up. Some just let things happen. Some just despair.
But David taught us that we can. That we can overcome these Goliaths. All we need are three small things. First, David knew where he is good at. He was physically prepared. Second, David knew the source of his confidence and courage. He was spiritually ready to take on a huge challenge. Finally, David was wise. He knew the best strategy to topple a giant. He knew the Achilles heel of Goliath.
Nothing therefore is difficult to overcome. If we hone are abilities, faithfully strengthen our faith, and sharpen our minds, nothing should overwhelm and paralyze us. This reminds me of Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros* SJ who had 7 strokes that impaired some parts of his body. Despite his partial paralysis, he continued to compose songs until his death on January 15, 2008. All we have to do, when we are fully equipped like David, is to take the plunge.
* he composed liturgical songs sung all over the world especially when Filipinos gather like “Pananagutan”, Papuri sa Diyos, Dakilang Pag-ibig, Paghahandog ng Sarili (Kunin Mo O Diyos). He has been awared the Presidential Merit posthumously and is being called, the Father of Filipino Liturgical Music.