Absalom and Satan — Monday, 4th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

Absalom was one of David’s very own, but Absalom would betray him. Absalom’s name means “Father of Peace,” but he far closer resembles the “Father of Lies.”

In almost our earliest story about him, Absalom arranged his brother’s murder. He’s a murderer from the beginning.

We read that Absalom, like Satan, had a radiant beauty. “In all Israel there was not a man who could so be praised for his beauty as Absalom, who was without blemish from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

Like the devil, Absalom’s glory was equaled by his vanity. At the end of every year, when his long hair grew too heavy, he would have it shaved and weighed it according to the royal standard.

Absalom was willing do havoc to attract another’s attention, as when he set fire to the field of a person ignoring him.

Like the serpent, Absalom was cunning and he would readily lie to serve his purposes. Absalom would sit at the city gates, listen to peoples’ (legal) grievances, and assure each one that they were right and entitled. Then he would manipulatively muse on how much better their lives would be if only he had the power.

Finally, Absalom sought to overthrow and kill his king. Absalom’s best advisor would counsel him, ‘Please let me choose twelve thousand men, and be off in pursuit of David tonight. When all the people with him flee, I shall strike down the king alone. It is the death of only one man you are seeking; then all the people will be at peace.’ This plan was agreeable to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.

In our first reading we see David weeping on the Mount of Olives as he flees from Absalom. 1,000 years later, a descendant of David would be troubled in spirit on that same hill overlooking Jerusalem. Unlike David, Jesus did not flee His pursuers and was dead within a day. Jesus and the Sanhedrin agreed on this: it was better that one man should die, so that the whole nation may not perish.

David would flee and survive, but Absalom would die, thrust through with spears, hanging from a tree, entangled by his long, glorious hair.  But after this comes an episode which is a window into God’s incredible love for us. When news of the villainous betrayer’s death reaches King David, he mourns inconsolably at the loss of his beloved.

Likewise, and amazingly, despite Satan’s great and intractable wickedness; his betrayals, violence, and lies; the Lord still loves him. As the Book of Wisdom affirms, “[Lord,] you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?

There is a great encouragement in this for each one of us. If the Lord loves Satan, like David loved Absalom, then how could we ever doubt that the Lord will always love us, or imagine that He rejects us whenever we turn to Him?

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