Friday, 27 March 2009

Meeting God through a Good Cursing?

A good cursing! Sounds a bit of a contraction! Doesn’t it? Anyway, over the years for one reason or another a fair amount of cursing has been directed at me. I ask myself if I should be ashamed that on occasion I’ve given people a good lash of my tongue. What good has it ever achieved? To me, or to anyone else? Was it ever intended to do so?

In my confusion I turn my thoughts to King David, poor fellow. His son, Absalom, was leading a revolt against him with a view to seizing his throne. As David took to flight from Jerusalem, a man, Shimei by name, hurled curse upon curse against him and threw stones at him… seemingly with good reason.

‘Off with you, off with you, man of blood, scoundrel! Yahweh has paid you back for all the spilt blood of the House of Saul whose sovereignty you have usurped; and Yahweh has transferred the sovereign power to Absalom your son. Now your wickedness has overtaken you, man of blood that you are.’

The few remaining supporters of David wanted to strike down the insolent man. David forbade this. His reason was fantastic. ‘Let him curse! If Yahweh has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ what right has anyone to say, ‘Why have you done so?” (2 Sam 16:10)

This leaves me absolutely perplexed. How could God direct one man to curse another? And yet he did, or at least this is what David thought. We believe that God has his reasons and these must be good. We wouldn’t allow anything else of God. I have no choice but to conclude that since God prompted Shemei to curse David, then it must be a good cursing. A strange thought, indeed!

It says something extraordinary about David that he could winkle the designs of God out his own public humiliation – the miserable experience of being roundly cursed – and he the King himself. Nothing less! I’m trying to come to terms with the idea that sometimes God may want me to be opposed, not by civilised argument but by hurtful words. God may deem that such an onslaught will be for my benefit.

I can see that in such situations, which are real temptations for me to sin, God wants me to keep my cool and reflect on why this is happening to me. Like David, I am to try to accept what I should have known anyway – that there are those who believe they have good reason to disapprove of me as a person and of my actions. Through such humiliation hurled against David God is telling me that my self-esteem needs to be deflated. I’m not the good guy I had imagined.

Self-pity is not the answer - not the self-righteous musing that I may just possibly have done something that really upset a person. What is needed from me is an honest self-examination that convinces me that I really have done something to merit such a virulent outburst against me.

And here I have a huge respect for the so-called ‘good thief’ who rebuked his companion, ‘Have you no fear of God at all? You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong,’ Lk.23.40.

To me it is a cop-out for me to rush into identifying my troubles with those of Jesus, the suffering servant. I should be beating my breast and saying, ‘Through my fault.’ Something Jesus never had to say. All the same, I’m not so sure that I should be giving anyone a good cursing, much as I may enjoy doing so. It may do them some good, but I fancy it would do me a lot of harm.

Peter Clarke, OP.

On Wednesday Fr. Peter will reflect on ‘Pancakes on Wednesday.’


  1. This article is a reflection of my life. I'm going through such a difficult and overbearing battle with the devil - sometimes I'm overcome with self-pity as I find this struggle so unfair; but, then I reflect on my life and conclude maybe this is God's way of paying me back for my sins. We must fear God!! If not, out lives with be destroyed. I belive this is God ways of making me repent, and change my life to live in union with Him. It has gotten me so much closer to our Lord, and our Mother, Mary. I'm hangin in there through prayers and others like my beloved Father Pete, and family and friends praying for me. Maybe someday I'll be able to inspire others to never give up despite the battle - never stop believing and trusting in our Saviour. Jesus, thanks for loving me unconditionally, for protecting me, and for having mercy on me. And thank you for making me a better Raquel.

  2. This is something I have struggled with, also. It is words like those of David's, words of saints, stories of how they accepted opposition that have strengthened me in my own acceptance. All things pass through the hands of a good God, all things can be for our benefit. It is all in how we recieve them. When we accept them as a gift from God, rather as a cursing from the devil, it changes us from the very depths of our soul, slowly and painfully. At least for me slowly and painfully!