22 June, 2018. Fri. of Week 11

1st Reading: 2 Kings (11:1-4, 9-18, 20)

Athaliah seized the crown by violence. When she is executed, the covenant is renewed

When Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw that her son was dead, she set about to destroy all the royal family. But Jehosheba, King Joram’s daughter, Ahaziah’s sister, took Joash son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s children who were about to be killed; she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus she hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not killed; he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the Lord, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
But in the seventh year Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carites and of the guards and had them come to him in the house of the Lord. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the Lord; then he showed them the king’s son. The captains did according to all that the priest Jehoiada commanded; each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to the priest Jehoiada. The priest delivered to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the Lord; the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house, to guard the king on every side. Then he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the covenant; they proclaimed him king, and anointed him; they clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”
When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the Lord to the people; when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to custom, with the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” Then the priest Jehoiada commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and kill with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be killed in the house of the Lord.” So they laid hands on her; she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.
Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people, that they should be the Lord’s people; also between the king and the people. Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal, and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars. The priest posted guards over the house of the Lord. So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been killed with the sword at the king’s house.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 132)

R./: The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling

The Lord swore to David
a firm promise from which he will not withdraw:
Your own offspring
I will set upon your throne. (R./)
If your sons keep my covenant
and the decrees which I shall teach them,
Their sons, too, forever
shall sit upon your throne. (R./)
For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for his dwelling.
Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her. (R./)
The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling. (R./)
In her will I make a horn to sprout forth for David;
I will place a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but upon him my crown shall shine. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (6:19-23)

Not laying up earthly treasure where moths and rust corrode

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”


A dangerous, violent woman

A tragic outrage is described in the first reading, from 2 Kings. Here is a woman driven by ambition to murder her own step-children in order to seize the throne in Jerusalem. She then attempts to secure her priveleged position by corrupting the morals of the people. If they become like her, they will welcome her style of luxurious living, the sensuous fertility rites and sacred prostitution in the Ba’al temple she has built. Yet the innate goodness of the people wins the day, and seven years later the single royal son who escaped Athaliah’s slaughter is acclaimed as king. The high priest solemnizes a covenant between king and people, based on religious fidelity and popular justice. The house built upon ambitious boasting collapsed on Athaliah – an example of Jesus’ words that moths and rust corrode the strength and security of such false constructions.
Other words of Jesus may provide more practical advice. He advises us to have a “good eye,” filled with light and so able to see goodness and light in the actions and hearts of others. Rather than be annoyed by their faults and idiosyncrasies, our “good eye” ought to recognize the good side of them. We should commend them for their virtues, not condemn them for their vices, and not imitate them in bragging or boasting. But if we must brag, let it be about the grace of God that helps us in whatever are our weaknesses, failures or moments of rejection..

Where your treasure is

It was a maxim of Jesus that, ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ We focus our attention and desire onto whatever (or whoever) we treasure or value. We spend our lives trying to discern what is worthwhile from what is not. In the course of life we sometimes meet people whom we come to value and treasure, who mean a great deal to us, to whom we can give our hearts, in one way or another. In fact, it is people whom we treasure the most.
In the gospel it is clear that Jesus should be our ultimate treasure, the one who is worthy of all our heart and mind and soul. When he becomes our greatest treasure, then, in the words of the gospel, we store up treasures for ourselves in heaven. He is the treasure beyond all human treasures because he is Emmanuel, God-with-us. He is the pearl of great price. In his letter to the Philippians Paul declares, ‘I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Jesus was Paul’s greatest treasure; it was to him that Paul gave his heart. Because he gave his heart to Jesus, he had a heart for others, for all those for whom Jesus died and rose to new life. When we give our heart to Jesus, it is not withdrawn from others. Rather our heart expands to embrace all whom Jesus embraces.


(Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, martyrs)

John Fisher (1469 – 1535) and Thomas More (1478 – 1535) were both martyred for their refusal to recognize the king as head of the church in England. John Fisher, who studied at Cambridge University before becoming bishop of Rochester, was a renowned preacher. Thomas More, an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist, was Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. Both opposed King Henry’s annulment from Catherine of Aragon, and and were decapitated in 1535 for refusing to endorse the Act of Supremacy (1534).

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