When I was young, early in the television “game show” era there was a program called “What’s my line?” where panelists who were blindfolded attempted to guess the occupation of the guest by asking questions that began by eliminating large categories of careers and then became more and more particularized until finally someone (usually) guessed the person’s work. The first reading for today (1 SM 16:1-13) brought this show to mind although it barely seems to have relevance except perhaps in the process of eliminating people for a job rather than the other way around.
God is looking for a replacement for King Saul and tells Samuel to go to the House of Jesse where he will find God’s anointed one. Jesse had seven sons whom he presented to Samuel who thought even as he saw Eliab, the first son to appear, that “surely the Lord’s anointed is here before Him.” But God said to Samuel, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but God looks into the heart.” Samuel must’ve been getting nervous as one by one the seven were rejected by God. Thankfully, when he asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” the answer was yes and, as we know, the youngest, the sheepherder, became the great King David, God’s beloved, from whose line Jesus was born.
Just two days ago I spoke of clothing and how we often judge by appearance. Here it is again. The italicized sentence is good advice for us if we are trying to live a good and godly life. “Looking into the heart” can’t be done in a quick encounter, unless it leads to a deep and meaningful conversation. Usually it takes some time for a relationship to develop, for trust to become the basis for sharing. There are exceptions, times when God surprises us with unexpected people who appear on our path for the first time and who, from that first encounter (which includes that deep and meaningful first conversation), become life-long companions. Our job is to stay alert for the gifts of relationship, whether they seem to come instantaneously or grow incrementally. If we foreclose on possibility without exploration, we always lose.
So blessings on all of us whose desire is to be non-judgmental, who welcome people into our hearts and give them the opportunity to find God’s presence there.