December 16th. Day of Reconciliation. The story of David’s family is spread through the books of Samuel and Kings. David was recognised as the greatest of Israel’s kings. He was highly successful as a warrior and overall as a ruler, but his own family life was problematical. As a father he did not control or discipline his sons well. His favourite son, Absalom, even organised a coup against him and yet David was heartbroken at his death. Another son Ammon raped his half-sister Tamar. David’s own adultery with Bathsheba resulted in the death of their child. Solomon, the future king was born to Bathsheba after David married her. As David was dying his sons were squabbling over his inheritance. In the Biblical accounts and especially in the psalms David confessed his sinfulness to God. He saw the death of his infant son as God’s punishment and grieved bitterly. Having acknowledged his guilt he was forgiven and so restored his relationship with God. However the saga of their family disintegration continued into the next generations.

In South Africa this is the DAY OF RECONCILIATION commemorating the wars and battles fought by our people over land and power. Formerly known as the Day of the Covenant or the Day of the Vow it is particularly significant to the Afrikaner people and their relationships with God who they believed to be their protector, much as the Israelites had believed in Old Testament times.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ forgave you. Eph 4: Pope Francis: Jesus reveals the nature of God as that of a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy. Mv5 For reflection and discussion. While forgiveness is a powerful focus in David’s story and relationship with God one could ask if forgiveness in broken relationships does away with the consequences? Many lessons could also be learned about personal ambition over family care and childhood discipline, about faithfulness and sexual morality. How helpful is it in a family to take time for reconciliation occasionally in order to share, listen and forgive one another for small and larger hurts? For Catholics this could be done before going to Confession around Christmastime.