Watching the fierce battles in our political world today we ask: Does God care about politics? Or does he keep out of it and want us to keep out of it too? Our reading from the Book of Samuel today says God cares about the world of politics.
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way,” God says to Samuel, “I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” Samuel goes through all of Jesse’s sons, but none fit the bill. “Not him, not him, not him,” God says as one after another are brought to Samuel. “Are these all the sons you have?” Samuel asks.
Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.” “Send for him,” Samuel says, “we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” So David is brought to them, ” ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance.”
The LORD said, “There–anoint him, for this is he!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers; ‘and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.” (I Samuel 16,1-13)
“Anoint him, there he is,” God says. The prophet pours the horn of olive oil on David. What does the oil signify? A power not his own, a power that is God’s grace, to lead his people. The grace of God is needed to lead.
We are told to keep into the world of politics. It can be messy, uncertain, sometimes going nowhere world. But it’s part of God’s world and God’s plan. Not all of God’s plan, of course. Politics can’t become the only thing, which some think it is. Nor can we avoid it, as some unfortunately do.
We have to be engaged in the politics of our day. We’re also told to pray that our leaders– and ourselves– receive God’s grace.
Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed your glory to all nations.
God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President of these United States,
that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be useful to your people over whom he presides.
May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.
May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.
May he seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.
Let the light of your divine wisdom
direct the deliberations of Congress,
and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed
for our rule and government.
May they seek to preserve peace, promote national happiness, and continue to bring us the blessings of liberty and equality.
We pray for the governor of this state
for the members of the legislature,
for judges, elected civil officials,
and all others who are entrusted to guard our political welfare.
By your powerful protection, may they discharge their duties with honesty and ability.
We likewise commend to your unbounded mercy
all citizens of the United States,
that we be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your holy law.
May we be united in that peace which the world cannot give and, after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.
We pray to you, who are Lord and God,
for ever and ever. Amen.
(Adapted from a prayer for the inauguration of George Washington by Archbishop John Carroll, first Catholic bishop in the United States)