The choice of David as king of Israel (1 SM 16) was rather stunning and perhaps as difficult to understand in human terms by the populace of our time as we face a presidential election. We have been watching and listening to a large number of Democratic candidates during primary season and have looked for one thing most importantly: who can beat the incumbent so as to change things. In the Scriptures, the choice was made for the youngest of Jesse’s sons – someone who wasn’t even considered. They had to go to the fields where he was guarding the sheep to find him because none of the seven sons had been found suitable.
What was it that God (through Samuel) was looking for? Not appearance or lofty stature but rather the state of his heart. And how would we judge that in our day? Not by how much money he has (or how much s/he has raised to run a campaign) nor the promises made for the future. We must look deeper than the words and consider how the candidates’ actions and the way they live their lives is consistent with those words. That’s not easy in this huge country of ours. We need to do our best to follow what St. Paul said today to the Ephesians for our assessment of ourselves.
“Once you were darkness” he says, “but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (EPH 5: 8-14)
Notice that I suggested that we are assessing ourselves here – not others – because if we cannot find truth and honesty and goodness in ourselves, how do we expect to recognize it in others? It will take a long time, I think, for this to become the way we find our leadership, but perhaps, as we live through this moment that is challenging our world so seriously, we will shed much of the darkness that has accrued around and within us. In so doing we might see new (or forgotten) light in ourselves and others and a new world order might emerge. Why not adopt that kind of “spring cleaning?”