This past week, the account of David committing adultery with Bathsheba came up at a daily Mass (2 Samuel 11:1-17). The story opens thus: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1).
Take note of that last bit, “but David remained at Jerusalem.” That’s where the trouble begins. The Israelites explicitly demanded a king to govern them and lead them in battle (1 Samuel 8:19-20). David neglected this latter duty, sending his nephew Joab, the commander of his armies, in his place. By committing this first transgression, David set himself up for worse sins.
What about us? How many sins might we avoid if we were faithful to the duty of the present moment? Perhaps if we didn’t squander time on social media, we would attend to our work instead of gossiping or envying others’ lives. If we stuck to a schedule and didn’t allow ourselves to get bored, maybe we’d avoid falling into lustful fantasies or eating when we’re not hungry. If we ditched selfish, idle occasions of pleasure, maybe we’d avoid lapses in charity.
On the flipside, how much good might we accomplish by living the present moment as God desires?
February is a time of year when our spirits are inclined to dullness and boredom. The days are still short and gray, and there’s not much to celebrate. This year, too, Lent—that great penitential season that helps rejuvenate us spiritually—doesn’t begin until March 2nd. Given all this, it’s easy to neglect our duties and lapse into a spiritual stupor.
But we shouldn’t. We need to be faithful to the duty of the present moment whether we feel like it or not. This is the key to making forward progress.
Let’s ask ourselves how faithful we are to our duties. Is our service prompt and cheerful? Do we prioritize our duties, doing the most important tasks first? One image I find helpful is that of a big jar surrounded by a collection of rocks and pebbles. The rocks are the important things in your life, while the pebbles represent trivial stuff. In order to fit the rocks in the jar, you have to put them in first. The pebbles will fill in the gaps left over.
Do we do this? Do important things (prayer, relationships, work, self-care) go in our jars first? Or do we dump in the pebbles (surfing the Internet, idle conversations, trivial amusements) first, leaving no room for the rocks?
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.