The United Nation’s General Assembly begins this week in New York City. World leaders are arriving at the UN and already there’s talk that nothing good will come out it. It’s easy to blame leaders, and we do it all the time. Some are easy targets. Anyone governing a country or running for office today can expect withering scrutiny and criticism. Church leaders aren’t immune either.
“Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the LORD;
wherever it pleases him, he directs it.” (Proverbs 21,1)
Interesting that our reading for Mass on Tuesday, the beginning of the UN meeting, should begin with this verse from the Book of Proverbs.” The stream is called “channeled water” in other versions and commentaries, a water for fertilizing arid land. ” It takes great skill to direct water, whether water to fertilize fields or cosmic floods harnessed at creation, for water is powerful and seems to have a mind of its own. It also requires great skill to direct the heart of a king, for it is inscrutable and beyond ordinary human control.” (Commentary NAB)
So God is there directing the “channeled water” of the nations and their rulers, seemingly with a mind of their own, but in God’s firm hand.
St. Augustine in our liturgy recently had a sermon on the Good Shepherd in which he warns church leaders not to lead the sheep astray but to be like Jesus. When they are like him they are “like the one Shepherd, and in that sense they are not many but one. When they feed the sheep it is Christ who is doing the feeding.”
Pray for good leaders for our church, Augustine continues: “May it never happen that we truly lack good shepherds! May it never happen to us! May God’s loving kindness never fail to provide them!”
But the saint goes on . We must do something more than pray, we ourselves must be “good sheep,” because “if there are good sheep then it follows there will be good shepherds, since a good sheep will naturally make a good shepherd.”
Is that something that applies to us as citizens of the world and of the United States? Are the leaders we blame mirrors of ourselves? Are we getting the leaders we deserve? Add to a prayer for good leaders, then, a prayer for good citizens. God make us good citizens, and good leaders will come.
“A king’s heart is channeled water in the hand of the LORD;
God directs it where he pleases. (Proverbs 21,1)