Can scripture help us determine who to vote for?

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

In August, the Democratic and Republican parties will officially confirm their nominees for the presidential election. We need thoughtful leaders who will govern with the interests of all people in mind, not only a select base. Today’s readings provide insights into governance that can inform how we think about elected officials and whom we elect in November.

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‘Give your servant an understanding heart to distinguish right from wrong.’ (1 Kgs 3:0)

Liturgical day
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Readings
1 Kgs 3:5-12; Ps 119; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
Prayer

Do you seek to increase your own wisdom and understanding? 

How can you help to build the kingdom of heaven on earth?

Are you voting for people who want to promote a just society for all people, or only a select group?

In the first reading, God visits King Solomon in a dream early in his reign. God asks the new king what he desires. Solomon first recounts the faithfulness and righteousness of his predecessor, his father, David. Then Solomon acknowledges the gravity of assuming the throne, recognizing that leadership means he must serve the needs of all people. With this in mind, he requests that God give him an understanding mind and the ability to determine good from evil, right from wrong. God praises Solomon’s sincere and selfless request: “Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested.”

Scripture reminds us that the call to leadership is exactly that, a calling. Leaders must focus on the needs and success of others, rather than their own wealth, fame and success. Recognizing, as Solomon did, their responsibility to govern a “vast people,” leaders must promote justice and equality for all people, rejecting hateful ideologies and policies. We can pray that our leaders seek wisdom and understanding, but we must also exercise our right to vote for those who have demonstrated these qualities. Now more than ever we need competence and heart to get us through this difficult time.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we continue to hear parables about the kingdom of heaven. This week we hear three short parables, using the images of a hidden treasure, a fine pearl and a fishing net.

The fishing net parable is especially relevant today, and it connects well to last week’s Gospel. In this parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a net thrown into the sea that catches fish of every kind. When the net is full, it is brought to shore. The good fish are put into baskets, and the bad fish are thrown away. This passage has an eschatological tone, as it imagines a future judgment in which the righteous (good fish) are separated from the evil (bad fish), who are thrown into hell.

There are echoes of the parable of the weeds in today’s Gospel. Like the wheat and the weeds, the good and bad fish live side-by-side with one another. Just as the wheat grows amid the weeds, the good fish swim in the same sea as the bad fish and are caught in the same net. Solomon needed wisdom to govern God’s people; we need it in order to distinguish between the righteousness God seeks and the hatred and injustice that clouds and poisons the sea where we all swim together.

As we prepare for election season, Scripture reminds us of the wisdom required for leaders to consistently promote the good and care for diverse communities. We similarly need wisdom to choose such leaders.

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