Jonathan, Loyal Friend

January 20, 2022
Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we read about the elements of a good and Godly friendship:


In our first reading, Saul, insecure because of David’s success where Saul had failed, becomes more obsessed with nullifying David’s popularity:

Saul discussed his intention of killing David 
with his son Jonathan and with all his servants.
But Saul’s son Jonathan, who was very fond of David, told him:
“My father Saul is trying to kill you.
Therefore, please be on your guard tomorrow morning; 
get out of sight and remain in hiding.
I, however, will go out and stand beside my father 
in the countryside where you are, and will speak to him about you.
If I learn anything, I will let you know.”

David and Jonathan – Giovanni Battista Cima de Conegliano

Jonathan had made a covenant of friendship with David right after David defeated Goliath. That friendship grew and Jonathan came to accept David as the divine choice for king.

At great risk to himself, Jonathan becomes David’s powerful advocate in the face of Saul. Jonathan should have been in solidarity with his father, if not out of duty, then out of self-interest (for the sake of his own chance at the throne). The narrative, however, presents Jonathan acting against both his duty and his self-interest… Jonathan could do that only if he trusted in how Yahweh would build his kingdom and if he aligned himself with it.

Walter Brueggemann: I and II Samuel

I read a line that captures all of this so perfectly:

Jonathan loved David
and that love surely
compelled him to act,
but he found freedom
and strength to act
by putting his trust in God.

Joy Lockwood, Senior Pastor, Lakewood Presbyterian Church,
Jacksonville, FL

While the story of Jonathan and David has much to teach us about the nature of devoted friendship, it – together with our psalm and Gospel – has more to say about our friendship with God.

I am bound, O God, by vows to you;
            your thank offerings I will fulfill.
For you have rescued me from death,
            my feet, too, from stumbling;
            that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Our trust grows as we reflect on God’s steadfast loyalty to us, rescuing us from all the big and small stumblings of our life. Recognizing that generous Omnipresence, we deepen in courage to live honest, holy, just and merciful lives.

In our Gospel, we see Jesus being that kind of devoted and divine friend of those unbefriended by the merciless world. It is obviously a stressful ministry for which Jesus depends on communion with his Father and the Holy Spirit to sustain him. 

Let’s imagine that Triune Trust, Loyalty and Courage which we call the Holy Trinity. We can invite that Sacred Energy into our own hearts in a mutual friendship. This is the gift offered to us in our Baptism.

Poetry: You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night – Rainer Maria Rilke

You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.
Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.

Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.

They stand before you hiding you like names.
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

Music: O Lux Beata Trinitas – Slovenian Philharmonic Choir

O lux beata Trinitas,
Et principalis unitas,
Iam sol recedat igneus,
Infunde lumen cordibus.

Te mane laudum carmine,
Te deprecemur vespere:
Te nostra supplex gloria
Per cuncta laudet sæcula.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Ejusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Et nunc et in perpetuum.

O Trinity of blessed light,
O Unity of princely might,
The fiery sun now goes his way;
Shed Thou within our hearts Thy ray.

To Thee our morning song of praise,
To Thee our evening prayer we raise;
Thy glory suppliant we adore
Forever and forevermore.

All laud to God the Father be;
All praise, Eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete.

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