1 Samuel 24:3-21
Eyes are now turning to the United States where the process of electing the next president has begun. In the first stage each state votes on who will be the candidates that they will select from in November. This is quite different to Australia where the candidates are decided by the political parties themselves. Whatever the system may be choosing the best leader or leadership team is no simple matter and even the best of systems has to address human frailty.
Saul had been chosen as the first king but some of his choices led God to reconsider and shift his allegiance to David. In today’s reading, David and his men have been pursued and hunted by Saul’s troops in the desert. When Saul enters into a cave to relieve himself he is unwittingly vulnerable to be attacked and overpowered by David who is hiding in its depths. David forbids his men to harm Saul and cuts a piece of cloth as proof of his goodwill and as a demonstration of his nobility. Saul recognises that David is the better man and worthy to lead the people of Israel in the future. It is time for one to let go of power so the other can lead. This is not something that is often admitted or seen in political life but we have seen it this week with the abdication of Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
Just as God chose Saul, so Jesus in the Gospel today chooses his twelve companions to accompany him in his ministry. Like Saul they we be marked by both strength and weakness, saints and sinners invited into leadership. In this instance, David will show his quality by not taking advantage of Saul in his weakness using the power he has to save a life rather than take one. Jesus will lead the disciples to see that true power is shown in service, and giving oneself so that others might live. It’s a lesson that all leaders would do well to learn.
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.