Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Memorial of Saint Anthony, abbot

(Samuel 16:1-13; Mark 2:23-28)

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the great St. Anthony, not of Padua but of the desert. Anthony lived in the fourth century. His heart was so pure that when he heard the gospel of the rich young man whom Jesus asked to give up his wealth and to follow him, he applied the words to himself. The first reading today tells of the Lord seeing such clarity of purpose.

Saul has deeply disappointed God. As a youth he may have whole-heartedly followed the Lord, but in his mature years he has decided to “play it cool.” God knows that he is no longer fit to lead His people and commissions Samuel to find a replacement. Of course, God will assist Samuel in his choice. The favor falls on David, handsome but humble, at least before the Lord. God knows this because, as Scripture constantly proclaims, He looks into people’s hearts.

In an election year we should imitate the Lord in examining the hearts of the candidates. Of course, this task requires discernment which comes with prayer. Still we have to test candidates by seeing if their experience matches their words, by noting any doubletalk in their orations, and by checking whether they have the courage to take unpopular stands in order to do what is right. In the end we may not be fully able to read candidates’ hearts, but we will do something better than judge by appearances.