Sometimes, my day job and this passion project dovetail perfectly. Last week one of those times: parts of the Book of Isaiah matched perfectly with this week in the world.
First, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. I slipped back into my role of Catholic-in-Chief at our Washington bureau, passing along my liturgical knowledge of the funeral Mass.
Many people view Scalia as a conservative judicial prophet. Like or dislike him, he was a powerful voice from the highest bench. And to my point last week, there are a lot of prophets out there.
And like the prophets of the Bible, not everyone accepts the message — as many foes of Scalia would attest.
Then there was Pope Francis versus Donald Trump — 2016 politics playing out through the chair of St. Peter.
It was a reminder that, as popular as he remains, not everyone listens to Francis. Many of the Republican presidential candidates castigated the Pope for entangling himself in domestic politics.
With these events, as I read through Isaiah, visions of a prophet yelling his knowledge from street corners rattled around in my head. Did anyone listen to him? Isaiah is so repetitive. There were moments when it felt like I was reading a remedial Bible. Or maybe the people of Israel were hard of hearing?
But then I hit Chapter 32 of Isaiah. It’s all about the way to be a leader. And considering Scalia’s death and our presidential politics, I ponder what we, as modern Americans, look for in a leader.
Something like this?
“Each of them will be a shelter from the wind, a retreat from the rain. They will be like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a great rock in a parched land.” (Isaiah 32:2)
I would like someone to think of me that way in my role at work. I want to be the person who is always looking out for my team.
But the Bible reminds us as well that leadership doesn’t have to be grandiose to be great. “But the noble man plans noble things and by noble things he stands.” (Isaiah 32:8)
(If he’s repetitive, at least Isaiah does it well.)
Of course, the second part of the chapter was all about the contrarian “overconfident” woman.
You win some, you lose some in the Bible. (The women lose more.)
Jeremiah is next. It’s a long road through the prophets, who knew there were so many?