Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 13:1-16)
Of all the artists of the Renaissance none, besides perhaps Leonardo da Vinci, characterizes the age better than Michelangelo. And of all Michelangelo’s works none illustrates the spirit of the Renaissance better than his statue of David. Tall, graceful, strong but elegantly reserved Michelangelo’s David glorifies humanity, not above God but as the epitome of God’s creation.
In the first reading the Lord tells Samuel that He does not judge a person by appearances but looks into the heart. For this reason He waits until Samuel presents the young David as a candidate for king of Israel. We can compare fourteenth century Europe to time of the election of David. As Saul shows himself unworthy of kingship under God, Europe was decimated of one third of its population by the Black Death. No doubt, to some the time appeared to be the end for an ignoble humanity. But Michelangelo, representing the insight of the Renaissance in his work, perceived that humanity’s unrelenting spirit would, to paraphrase William Faulkner, not only endure but prevail.
Sometimes in our generation it seems that humanity is up to no good and will suffer a tragic end. Not only do we cheapen ourselves unashamedly with television rot and barbarous music; we also build bombs capable of destroying the human race. With the help of God we too must look to the core of our nature and find the nobility of our humanity. Then we have to renew our civilization once again with that in mind.