The consequences of killing Saul, or Why I shouldn’t criticize priests

Well, I finished the gospel of Matthew and decided to go back to the Old Testament for my lectio divina time. I began the second book of Samuel. King Saul has died during a battle with the Philistines, a young man reports to David. Saul had tried to kill himself by falling on his sword, but his life was still lingering. He asked a passer-by, the young messenger to David, to give the final blow. The man acquiesces. David, in terrible grief, asks him, “How is it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” (2 Sam. 1.14)

Think about this a minute. This is the same Saul who tried to kill David on three separate occasions; who twice came out to kill him in the wilderness (and on both occasions David could have killed Saul but spared him); who consulted a witch, against God’s express commands; who the Spirit of God abandoned (1 Sam. 16.14). Saul was not a good king, not a good example to his people, or a good worshiper of God. And yet David, the man after God’s own heart, defends him and respects him, in life and in death.

What does this have to do with priests? Roman Catholic priests are the LORD’s anointed. They have been chosen by God to be His ministers. They are in persona Christi –in the person of Christ. These men, however, are human, and like Saul, sometimes make poor choices. Sometimes they are bad examples and poor reflections of Christ. Like me. Like you. What can I learn from David? Each and every priest is God’s anointed, whether he acts like it or not. Whether he gives good homilies or not. Whether he follows the rubrics of the mass or not. My response to him should be always one of mercy. Like David, I need to defend and respect God’s anointed. Most especially, I need to pray.