23 June, 2018. Sat. of Week 11

1st Reading: 2 Chronicles (24:17-25)

King Joash murders the son of the priest who had saved his life

After the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and did obeisance to the king; then the king listened to them. They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and served the sacred poles and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord; they testified against them, but they would not listen.
Then the spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of the priest Jehoiada; he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus says God: Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has also forsaken you.” But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. King Joash did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. As he was dying, he said, “May the Lord see and avenge!”
At the end of the year the army of Aram came up against Joash. They came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the officials of the people from among them, and sent all the booty they took to the king of Damascus. Although the army of Aram had come with few men, the Lord delivered into their hand a very great army, because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors. Thus they executed judgment on Joash.
When they had withdrawn, leaving him severely wounded, his servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of the priest Jehoiada, and they killed him on his bed. So he died; and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 89)

R./: I will keep my love for my servant always

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations. (R./)
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.
I will make his posterity endure forever
and his throne as the days of heaven. (R./)
If his sons forsake my law
and walk not according to my ordinances,
If they violate my statutes
and keep not my commands. (R./)
I will punish their crime with a rod
and their guilt with stripes.
Yet my mercy I will not take from him,
nor will I belie my faithfulness. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (6:24-34)

We cannot serve two masters. Do not be anxious for tomorrow

Jesus said to this disciples, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you נyou of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”


Power corrupts

Our first reading continues the series of shocking examples shown by those who should have been shepherding Israel, as modelled by king David. Today’s text interrupts the readings from the 2 Kings to provide information about King Joash. When power and control went to his head, he forgot the heroic loyalty of friends who had saved his life and secured the kingdom for him when he was a child. How readily he forgot his simple origins, or in Shakespeare’s words, “Scorning the base degrees by which he did ascend.” Joash went so far as even to execute the high priest Zechariah whose father Jehoiada had defended Joash as a child, years before.
“Enough for the day. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today has troubles enough of its own.” It is far more necessary to live today than to worry about tomorrow. Life is more important than food, the body more valuable than clothes. It is not psychologically healthy, much less Christian, to surrender to a compulsion for exotic foods and luxurious clothing.
Jesus warns us to review our scale of values, “Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap.. yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” Selfish or sensuous desires lead to all sorts of trouble, but as Paul points out, weakness turns into strength when it brings us to prayer and trust in God and the memory of God’s goodness. Such an awareness of weakness can put our values back into good order, for God can transform even our sins into occasions of grace.

Remedy for anxiety

Worrying is part of the human condition. Parents worry about their children. Family members worry about each other. Young people worry about their future. Jesus must have worried about his disciples, about the lack of response on the part of some of his contemporaries to his message, about many things. In the gospel this morning Jesus is not saying ‘don’t ever worry about anything.’ The focus of worry in that gospel is food, drink and clothing, and the worry in question is excessive worry or preoccupation. Jesus makes reference in that reading to ‘the pagans who set their hearts on all these things.’
What is at issue here is setting our hearts on things that is not of ultimate importance. To that extent, it is really about getting our priorities right, getting them into line with God’s priorities. That is why Jesus calls us to ‘Set your hearts on God’s kingdom first, and on his righteousness.’ Don’t be so preoccupied about food, drink and clothing, Jesus is saying, that there is no room in your heart for concern about the coming of God’s kingdom or the doing of God’s will. The first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer relate to what might be termed God’s priorities, ‘Hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ These were Jesus’ priorities and he calls us to make them our own as well.

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