I’ll admit to being pleasantly surprised when I learned the results of the Iowa Caucuses earlier this week.
Now, please understand: “NONE OF THE ABOVE” would be more likely to get my vote than any of the top finishers in either the Republican or Democrat fields. Still, I took heart in the fact that the pre-caucus polls turned out to be considerably less than accurate.
‘Maybe there’s hope for our country after all,’ I remember thinking. ‘And perhaps I won’t have to follow through on my threat to join the Conch Republic…’
If you hang around me long enough, you’ll probably learn that I tend to take these political things a bit more seriously than I ought to. It’s a product of my upbringing, I suppose: The son of a seven-time candidate for U.S. Congress, I literally grew up stuffing campaign envelopes. And in the process, I think I acquired a bit of my father’s deeply-held belief in the importance and efficacy of the American political system.
It’s only taken a few decades of broken promises and disappointments to cure me of that affliction. I still watch the political scene with interest, of course. And I make it a point to vote in every election…and even offer modest campaign contributions from time to time. But all in all, I’ve learned to moderate my expectations of political leaders quite a bit in recent years.
This morning’s first reading from 2 Samuel seems to validate that change in outlook. We heard the story of a very flawed political leader—King David—who had trouble deciding between what was good for himself…or for the people over whom he ruled.
Eventually, David comes around—and does the selfless thing:
When David saw the angel who was striking the people,
he said to the LORD: “It is I who have sinned;
it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong.
But these are sheep; what have they done?
Punish me and my kindred.”
Still, the story provides a timely reminder about the danger that comes with putting too much faith in human institutions and traditions. Even the best of us are broken, sinful. So it should come as no surprise that the political solutions we devise invariably fall short of the mark.
Far better to put our faith in Christ Jesus—the One whose wisdom points to a kingdom that no sin or human imperfection can destroy.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.