This week I read past the rejection of the Israelites of God as their king and their demand for a human king and past the story of King Saul and his periodic turning away from God and God's forgiveness again and again. All of this sounds like a modern-day story, and I suppose I could have reflected on any of it. However, I did not feel God leading me in that direction. Rather, my mind came to rest on the story of the annointing of David as successor to Saul. Samuel, in trying to discern which of the seven sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite presented to him would be king was led to think that the eldest, comeliest, tallest, and strongest was the most suited. "But the LORD said unto Samuel: 'Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him; for it is not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.'" It was ultimately the less physically endowed, harp-playing David who was chosen.
Reading: I Samuel 16:7
Meditation: I wonder how many better decisions we might make and better conclusions we might reach if we were to see as God sees, not as man sees. How many times have we judged a book by its cover, to use a modern expression? One of the most well known instances of this of recent days would be Susan Boyle's appearance in front of the Britain Has Talent judges. One could see their mirth at the thought that such a frumpy woman could sing. They even toyed with her. And then she opened her mouth!
A student of mine a number of years ago did a graduate thesis on presidential elections in the United States. Quite surprisingly (perhaps surprising only to me because I am so very short), the tallest candidate nearly always was elected president. (Hm, our presidents are getting taller and taller -- and, given this criterion, Hilary Clinton never had a chance.)
When we judge people from the outside, we make the mistake that God prevented Samuel from making. And because we do not see as God sees, there is likely much evil passing as good among us for evil can dress itself in the garbs of good very easily, slipping into our lives, living with us, and being widely accepted simply because it looks like good.
We may never be able to see as God sees, only as He helps us to see when the need arises. Nonetheless, we can come a little closer if we look at the heart, as God instructed Samuel, and not at the body, and especially if we put aside our preconceived ideas of beauty, good, and worthiness and listen to what God tells us about each of these and about the people, things, and ideas in our lives. No, we cannot see as God sees; we will always see more or less as man sees, but we can keep in mind that our eyesight is not 20/20 spiritually and allow God to lead us when our vision is especially clouded.
And that is far as I can go with you on this Monday morning. I must retire to prayer to repent for those times that I have tried to see with my own eyes, to thank God for pointing out what I should really be seeing, and to give praise for His incredible patience in being willing to teach me over and over again how to see. After that, I will spend time in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.