Pope Francis says God looks beyond appearances and into the heart. He was speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
Drawing inspiration from the First Reading of the day that tells of the choice of the young David as king of Israel, the pope pointed out that even in the lives of the saints there are temptations and sins, as demonstrated by the life of David.
The Lord – he said - rejected Saul "because his heart was closed," he had not obeyed him, and he decided to choose another king.
The pope pointed out that the choice he made was far from human standards since David was the youngest son of Jesse, he was only a boy.
But – he continued – the Lord made it clear to the prophet Samuel that he looks beyond appearances: “the Lord looks into the heart”:
"We are often the slaves of appearances and allow ourselves to pursue appearances: ‘But God knows the truth’. And that is so in this story... Jesse’s seven sons are presented and the Lord does not choose any of them, he lets them pass by. Samuel is in a bit of difficulty and says to Jesse: ‘The Lord has not chosen any of them, are these all the sons you have? And Jesse replied that there was still the youngest, who is tending the sheep’. To the eyes of man this boy did not count.”
He did not matter to men, but the Lord chose him and ordered Samuel to anoint him and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David” and from that day on “the whole of David's life was the life of a man anointed by the Lord, chosen by the Lord” the pope said.
So – Pope Francis asked – “Did the Lord make him a saint?” No, is the answer – he said: “King David is saint King David, this is true, but he became a saint after living a long life” a life during which he sinned:
"A saint and a sinner. A man who managed to unite the Kingdom, he was able to lead the people of Israel. But he fell into temptation ... he committed sins: he was also a murderer. To cover up his lust, the sin of adultery… he commissioned a murder. He did! Did saint King David commit murder? When God sent the prophet Nathan to point this reality out to him, because he was not aware of the barbarity he had ordered, he acknowledged his sin and asked for forgiveness.”
Thus – Pope Francis continued – “his life went on. He suffered personally following the betrayal of his son, but he never he never used God for his own purpose.” And he recalled that when David was forced to flee from Jerusalem he sent back the ark and declared that he would not use the Lord in his defense. And when he was insulted – the pope said – David would say to himself: “It’s what I deserve.”
And then, Francis noted, “he was magnanimous”: he could have killed Saul “but he did not do so.” Saint King David, a great sinner, but a repentant one. “The life of this man moves me” – the pope said - it makes us think of our own lives.
“We have all been chosen by the Lord to be Baptized, to be part of His people, to be saints; we have been consecrated by the Lord on the path towards sainthood. Reading about this life, the life of a child – no… not a child, he was a boy – from boyhood to old age, during which he did many good things and others that were not so good. It makes me think that during the Christian journey, the journey the Lord has invited us to undertake, there is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.”