1 Sam 16: 1. 6-7. 10-13, Eph 5: 8-14, Jn 9: 1-41
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Israel needed a king. The first king of Israel, Saul, on whom such great hopes and expectations had been placed, had proved a failure and had been rejected by God. The prophet Samuel was commissioned by God to look for a new king.
As Samuel set out, he pondered on the sort of qualities he should look for in the new king. His search led him to Bethlehem and the household of Jesse. There, one by one, he was introduced to seven of Jesse’s sons. All of them possessed outstandingly physical attributes. They were tall, strong, good-looking. They created a very good image. Samuel was impressed and was tempted to settle for one of them. Yet he wasn’t quite satisfied. Something told him to continue his search.
He was looking for something else, something not so obvious but which he felt he would recognize if and when he saw it. Then, almost as an afterthought David was introduced to him. A mere youth, he was still physically underdeveloped. Judged by appearances, he didn’t have much going for him. He didn’t cut a good image.
Today the image has become more important than the reality, the appearance of the substance. Because we look only at appearances, we judge by appearances. And to judge by appearances is to judge superficially. Appearances can be very deceptive and very misleading. Everything that makes up the kernel of a person’s life, is hidden from us. In the memorable words of the Little Prince, ‘What is essential is invisible.’
Now while David didn’t cut a good image, he did have something going for him. Samuel, a wise and perceptive man, noticed it at once. We are told that he had ‘fine eyes and pleasant bearing.’ This tells us that there was another side to young David, an inner side. Though this other side was largely invisible, there were some outward manifestations of it. It showed itself in his pleasant personality. But above all it showed itself in his eyes. His clear and bright eyes pointed to a good heart.
As soon as Samuel saw David, he knew that his search for a successor to Saul was over. David made good and is one of the most important figures in the Old Testament. This doesn’t mean that he was perfect. He sinned and sinned grievously. But he always repented. Another sign of his greatness was his ability to forgive his enemies. Several times in the Gospel Jesus is called ‘Son of David’. It was meant as a compliment.
David’s heart was good. When all is said and done it is the heart that matters. Darkness of heart is the blackest night of all. Emptiness of heart is the greatest poverty of all. A heavy heart is the most wearisome burden of all. A broken heart is the most painful wound of all.
In the Gospel story we see that the heart of the Pharisees were in darkness. And not even Jesus, ‘The light of the world’, was able to bring light to them. As for the poor blind man, not only his eyes became bright, but his heart was filled with light as a result of his encounter with Jesus.
While we tend to look at appearances, God looks at the heart. God sees what is in the heart. That is why only God can truly judge people.
Peace and all good!
Fr. Valery Burusu