Today we see that David is sorry for having taken a census. What’s wrong with keeping count? Well, perhaps it is this: a human is more than a number. We tend to value ourselves on numbers–test scores, rebounds or goals in a game, weight, income, etc. Even I as a priest value myself on numbers–how many confessions are there, how many people are at Mass or youth group or this or that. There is a tendency to reduce things to numbers. But we are more than numbers. St John Bosco’s feast is today. This man is patron of young men because he worked tirelessly to raise up boys into good men. He knew their names, their stories, and he loved them in their uniqueness. That’s how Jesus loves us too. No matter the numbers.
Here’s this from Vigils today, from the pen of St John Bosco:
Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.
This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.
They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.