Tuesday, January 21, 2014

False dichotomy

As much as we like to think that we all know better than to judge by appearance, the fact is that we still do. To be elected president of the United State you not only have to be a man, but a tall man. We think we choose based on what a person stands for. More often than not we decide who we like based on appearance and the filter information that conforms to the choice we have made. We choose not to believe bad things about the ones we like, and we filter out the good about the ones we don't like.

Can a woman be both pretty and smart? Can a boy be a geek and a jock? Why do we feel the need to choose one or the other?

In today's first reading Samuel is told that God does not judge by appearance but by the heart. Then in the same passage we are told about David, that "He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance." So he was both chosen and handsome.

Even more to the point he will turn out to be both the greatest king in Israel's history, and one of the greatest sinners, committing adultery then murder to cover up the adultery.

Today's reading reminds us that the world and particularly human beings are complex. Composed of both a spiritual aspect and a material aspect, we are constantly in flux, constantly changing. If we are true to God's plan we are constantly being transformed by God's grace.

We want the world to be simple. We want it to be comprehensible and predictable. What we can forget is that when we try to simplify and categorize human beings we rob them of their humanity. When we reduce human beings to biochemistry or psychological models, we rob them of their freedom, the thing that separates us from the rest of creation.

Today's reading ends by telling us:
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.

Each of us received that same Spirit at Baptism and if we were confirmed, again at Confirmation. If we allow it that Spirit of God can be a spirit that heals, a spirit that brings us consolation, peace, and enables us to truly love.

Perhaps today is a good day to take another look at those people whom we have categorized in one way or another, and acknowledge the complexity, the mystery that is present in every human life.