Maybe the Book of Judges, our Old Testament reading at today’s Mass, can offer some perspective on the election process going on in our country now.
The Book of Judges describes the period in Jewish history from the death of Joshua, who led the Israelites in their conquest of the promised land of Canaan, till the installation of Saul as Israel’s first king by the prophet Samuel. During that time, the Israelites were spread out in various parts of Canaan and were led by local leaders, “judges”, a Hebrew word that doesn’t mean people who preside in courts, but ordinary leaders like mayors or city managers or local chiefs.
Without an overall leader, the Israelites were prey to stronger enemies. Eventually, they realized they needed a king, like Saul and David and Solomon, but in this period they were small vulnerable pockets of people living throughout the land.
Gideon and his frightened community are described in today’s reading. They’re taking to the hills to escape marauding bands of Midianites. God calls Gideon to lead his people against them, but he shrinks from the call; he’s a poor farmer who can hardly take care of his own vineyard. He has no talent, no experience or strength, he says.
“Go with the strength you have,” was God’s message to him.
We’re certainly a divided people today; we may wonder is there’s anyone who can unite us and lead us? Is there anyone adequate to govern us?
The Book of Judges says that the “Spirit of the Lord” can come upon the weakest and transform them into leaders, as it did Gideon. A leader’s not made from human qualities alone, or political contributions or a powerful media that promotes one’s cause.The political world is not off-limits to the spiritual. The Spirit can move in the world of politics as in other areas of life, enhancing the strength one has, giving eyes to see and a mind to understand.
We may not pray for politicians enough.