Imagine having a leader whom you don’t like. Imagine having someone in charge with whose decisions you constantly disagree. Imagine a leader about whom you have questioned their stability or sanity.
We’ve all had the experience of having to follow or obey someone with whom we disagree – someone about whom we think we can do better. Whether that person is your pastor, your president, or your pope – we all have run into issues that we believe we are right on and they are wrong – and we might even be right!
David in the First Reading is in just such a situation. King Saul was out to destroy him – how much more wrong can you think someone is?! However, even though we would think he would be justified in killing him as he slips into his camp, David will not do it. He understands that even if Saul is a bad king, he is still God’s king at that time. Nothing gives us the power to diminish someone else’s dignity – not even their own errors.
Maybe we’ve felt this way about our president (come on: not everything he does is wonderful!); maybe we’ve felt this way about the pope (I cringe when he gives interviews on planes); maybe it’s as simple as not liking Fr. Austin’s choice of paint color for the school doors. Whatever it is, we still need to recognize that none of these people are perfect, and they are doing the best they can with what they have and what they know. Maybe they have bad advisors; maybe they have an agenda we don’t fully understand; maybe they are having a bad day. While we do not need to dismiss the bad they have done, we also do not have the right to remove them – and we certainly should not be wishing them harm. That is the lesson that David teaches us today.
When we allow our emotions or our own agendas to color how we cooperate with those in legitimate authority, we actually place the common good at risk. There are vulnerable brothers and sisters out there who depend on their leadership – flawed as it might be – for their support.
The best way to counter evil in this world is for people of faith to simply do good for the benefit of those who need our help. They don’t deserve to suffer because we are angry, disgruntled, or frightened. Not even David would harm King Saul, even if everyone thought he was a terrible leader. Just do good!
This is the spirit that I’d like us to keep in mind as we pledge our support today for the Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries. So many of our brothers and sisters in and around Baltimore benefit from our generous support here. Let’s allow that spirit that flows from Jesus to captivate us, as He says “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”