David, whose very name describes the perfection of intimacy possible with God,1 also fully demonstrates the radical imperfection and depravity of sin. What makes David particularly unique, however, is not the fact that he is loved by God (something that is true of every creature), nor the fact that he has committed grave sin, but that his love for God prompted a powerful act of repentance with great humility. We know that pride is the root of all sin,2 and David’s life makes it evident that while God is offended by our moral imperfections and sins, He forgives and saves the one whose repentance is full of humility.
Today’s Gospel sets the mystery of our salvation in the context of a storm tossed ship. Though the immanent danger of death certainly causes tremendous distress and fear, that fear is amplified and exacerbated by the unknown that lies beyond death itself. If the unknown beyond death is somehow affected or determined by the way we lived our lives, any normal human conscience has cause to tremble. Jesus is the presence of God resting in the soul of our storm tossed lives. As we begin to perceive the potential for shipwreck at death, it is still humility and trust in the absolute power and mercy of God that saves our soul from the despair that comes from thinking that we must save ourselves.
- David (da’-vid) = Beloved. Smith, S., & Cornwall, J. (1998). In The exhaustive dictionary of Bible names (p. 58). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos.
- STh., I-II q.84 a.2 s.c.–resp.: It is written (Ecclus. 10:15): Pride is the beginning of all sin.
I answer that, Some say pride is to be taken in three ways. First, as denoting inordinate desire to excel; and thus it is a special sin.—Secondly, as denoting actual contempt of God, to the effect of not being subject to His commandment; and thus, they say, it is a generic sin.—Thirdly, as denoting an inclination to this contempt, owing to the corruption of nature; and in this sense they say that it is the beginning of every sin, and that it differs from covetousness, because covetousness regards sin as turning towards the mutable good by which sin is, as it were, nourished and fostered, for which reason covetousness is called the root; whereas pride regards sin as turning away from God, to Whose commandment man refuses to be subject, for which reason it is called the beginning, because the beginning of evil consists in turning away from God.
Now though all this is true, nevertheless it is not in keeping with the mind of the wise man who said (loc. cit.): Pride is the beginning of all sin. For it is evident that he is speaking of pride as denoting inordinate desire to excel, as is clear from what follows (verse 17): God hath overturned the thrones of proud princes; indeed this is the point of nearly the whole chapter. We must therefore say that pride, even as denoting a special sin, is the beginning of every sin. For we must take note that, in voluntary actions, such as sins are, there is a twofold order, of intention, and of execution. In the former order, the principle is the end, as we have stated many times before (Q. I., A. 1, ad 1; Q. XVIII., A. 7, ad 2; Q. XV., A. 1, ad 2; Q. XXV., A. 2). Now man’s end in acquiring all temporal goods is that, through their means, he may have some perfection and excellence. Therefore, from this point of view, pride, which is the desire to excel, is said to be the beginning of every sin.—On the other hand, in the order of execution, the first place belongs to that which by furnishing the opportunity of fulfilling all desires of sin, has the character of a root, and such are riches: so that, from this point of view, covetousness is said to be the root of all evils, as stated above (A. 1). Thomas Aquinas. (n.d.). Summa theologica. (Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Trans.). London: Burns Oates & Washbourne.