One example of the later is Alexander the Great, the most successful conqueror in history. Alexander’s personal life was less than exemplary. His royal upbringing, his military successes and his personal shortcomings made him act with cruelty against his enemies and indulge in many pleasures of the flesh with considerable frequency.
Nobody has gained the right to be a vehicle for God’s willi . The ones He chooses to accomplish His plans are sometimes great saints, but at times He also chooses persons we might consider unworthy to be the venues of His Divine Wisdom.
This background contrasts with the unexpected benevolence he showed when Jerusalem surrendered to him. Alexander’s conquest of Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Bible, but Titus Flavius Josephus, the famous Roman-Jew historian of the first century, narrates this eventii . After the first two great victories of Alexander’s campaign to conquer the Persian Empire at Garnicum and Issus, he requested the Jews to provide provisions for his army. The Jewish High Priest Jaddua rejected his request to keep a promise he had made to the Persian king Darius. After Alexander conquered Tyre, he marched towards Jerusalem to revenge its disobedience. The frightened people of Jerusalem made supplications and sacrifices to God while the High Priest was in agony thinking of the future that awaited them. God, in a dream, told Jaddua not be afraid, but to go out in procession and receive Alexander with joy and honors. The people followed the High Priest, as he commanded. He was attired in his ceremonial clothes, including the gold pate in which the name of God was inscribed. At the sight of the plate, Alexander approached the priest, kneeled, and adored the name of God. His second in command, Parmenion questioned why he had adored the Jewish priest. Alexander explained he had not adored the priest, but God, who had bestowed the high honor in that man. Alexander continued that he had already seen the priest in a dream when he was considering invading the Persian Empire and how the dream had encouraged Alexander not to delay the expedition, for his army would thrive for being under Divine protection. The day after his entrance in Jerusalem, a ceremony was held to honor the victorious general, there the passage of the Book of Daniel that says that a Greek would destroy the Empire of the Persians was readiii. Alexander was sure the passage referred to him. It seems God had chosen him to accomplish something important, notwithstanding his major flaws.
I often think that we are living a similar situation. The Russian President Vladimir Putin is far from having lived a true Christian life. He was born under the communist system and was educated by that system. He became a lawyer from a Bolshevik university and married under their laws. He was an officer of the Russian secret service, the KGB, where he worked to maintain the system by heading counterintelligence activities in Eastern Germany. He has never discredited the methods used by the KGB.
Nobody has gained the right to be a vehicle for God’s will.Rom 11, 33-36
He was a valuable element of the system and learned to climb the political ladder at the time communism and the Soviet Union disintegrated. He became a close adviser of Boris Yeltsin, a member of the soviet politburo, who knew when to resign to that political post and later become the first president of the re-established Russian Federation. Putin’s qualifications and efficiency made him the naturel choice to inherit the power from Yeltsin in 2012. He has been the unequivocal leader of Russia for the last 8 years, both in his roles as President and as Prime Minister. His thirst for power is claimed to be the reason behind the changes he promoted to the Russian Constitution, the most profound since the fall of communism. In addition to changing the terms of the presidency to include provisions very favorable to his clinging to power, Putin also added two important changes: first the recognition of the Russians’ faith in one God. This in contrast with many European Countries, mainly France, where elimination of all references to God in their constitutions is the new directive. The second important change Putin promoted is the constitutional recognition that marriage is between one man and one woman. Can you think of a more significant contrast than this country which less than 30 years ago was the main promoter of atheism in the world? Putin even attends mass often!
And what about Donald J. Trump? The president’s private life has been far from the one that would characterize a beacon of traditional principles. His lifelong interactions with women, religion, and family and Christian values, specially his lack of humility, have made him a sort of antithesis of a Christian hero. On the other hand, now that he is in power, he has taken the most pro-life agenda of any president, not only in the history of the United States, but also of the recent history of the world. Many Catholics were very reluctant to vote for him in the 2016 election, including me. So far, he has kept his promises, either for conviction or for practical expediency, or both, but we have the judges we yearned for and many laws that promote the traditional family. It is quite sad we had to overlook his core failings, hold our noses, and give him our vote, for the electoral alternative was even less appealing.
We are facing again a similar point where we must decide between two less than perfect choices. We pray that the future of this country has some politicians who truly represent Christian values in policies and his/her personal life. In other words, we yearn for a deserving assistant of God to fulfill his plans.
iRom 11, 33-36
iiThe works of Josephus. Complete and Unabridged. The Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI. Delmarva Publications 2016.
iiiDan 8, 1-8