An interesting reading a few Sundays ago from the Old Testament book of Samuel: Nathan the prophet tells David that the Lord said, ‘I have anointed you king. I’ve rescued you from your enemies. I’ve given you your enemies’ possessions. I’ve given you kingdoms to rule, and much more; but you despise Me and act against Me.’ It’s almost as if God is saying, ‘So, what have you done for Me lately?’
I can’t help but think that Nathan was paraphrasing what he thought God might say to David in this particular situation. I say that because it strikes me that in my concept of God He is beyond saying, ‘I did such-and-such for you, now shouldn’t you act accordingly?’ Of course, the gist of what Nathan tells David is quite true for us all. God has done wonderful things for us and showers us with many graces and blessings – so what have we done for Him lately? But I cannot see this as being a condition for the love of the God I know.
Then there were other recent readings all about repentance and forgiveness. We know that forgiveness is always there from God. But the disposition toward that forgiveness is on us. We call it repentance, and it simply means that guilt, shame, and lost love (or at least the feelings of lost love) move us to sorrow; and sorrow moves us to do something for the One who has done much for us.
So, even though I can’t imagine God saying, ‘Look, I’ve done all this for you. What have you done for me lately?’ – it is precisely what we think of in terms of forgiveness and repentance. Thus the admonition probably came quite naturally to Nathan, just as the feeling that we need to do something to atone for our shortcomings comes quite naturally to us.