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The Everyday Prayer


 
printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of the first martyrs of the Roman Church during persecution of Nero.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Kings 11,1-20

When Athaliah mother of Ahaziah learned that her son was dead, she promptly murdered all those of royal stock.

But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, surreptitiously rescued Jehoash son of Ahaziah from among the princes who were to be murdered, and put him with his nurse in the sleeping quarters; in this way she hid him from Athaliah, and he was not killed.

He stayed, hidden with her in the Temple of Yahweh for six years, while Athaliah governed the country.

In the seventh year, Jehoiada sent for the regimental commanders of the Carians and the guards, and had them brought to him in the Temple of Yahweh. He made a pact with them, put them on oath, then showed them the king's son. He gave them this order,

'This is what you must do: a third of you who come on duty on the Sabbath must mount guard at the royal palace,

and your two other sections who come off duty on the Sabbath and mount guard at the Temple of Yahweh

must surround the king, each man with his weapons in his hand; anyone forcing his way through the ranks is to be killed. And you will escort the king as he leaves and as he comes in.'

The regimental commanders did everything as Jehoiada the priest had ordered, and each one brought his men, those coming on duty on the Sabbath and those going off duty on the Sabbath, and reported to Jehoiada the priest.

The priest then issued the regimental commanders with King David's spears and shields, which were kept in the Temple of Yahweh.

The guards then took position, each man with his weapons in his hand, from the south corner of the Temple to the north corner of the Temple, all round the altar and the Temple.

Then Jehoiada brought the king's son out -- crowned him and gave him a copy of the covenant; and they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and shouted, 'Long live the king!'

On hearing the people shouting, Athaliah joined the people in the Temple of Yahweh.

When she looked, there stood the king on a dais, as the custom was, with the officers and trumpeters at the king's side, and all the people of the country rejoicing and blowing the trumpets; then Athaliah tore her clothes and shouted, 'Treason, treason!'

Jehoiada the priest then gave the orders to the commanders in charge of the troops, 'Take her out under guard and put to death anyone who follows her.' 'For', the priest had already said, 'she must not be killed inside the Temple of Yahweh.'

They seized her, and when she reached the horses' entry to the palace, she was killed there.

Jehoiada made a covenant between Yahweh, the king and the people that they would remain Yahweh's people; and another one between the king and the people.

All the people of the country then went to the temple of Baal and demolished it; they smashed its altars and its images and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. The priest made arrangements for the security of the Temple of Yahweh.

He then took the regimental commanders, the Carians, the guards and all the people of the country, and they escorted the king down from the Temple of Yahweh, entering the palace through the Gate of the Guards. Jehoash took his seat on the throne of the kings.

All the people of the country were delighted; the city, however, made no move. And Athaliah was put to death inside the palace.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this chapter, the author moves to Judah, the southern kingdom. After the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom into two, the book of Kings has mostly followed the history of the northern kingdom, making only brief mention of the succession of the southern kings of that period, especially Rehoboam and Abijah, who receive a negative judgment from the book’s author, then Asa and Jehosaphat, who are instead judged favourably, and then Jeroboam and Ahaziah, who are also not deemed worthy of governing the Lord’s people. The six years of the queen Athaliah’s reign are considered so negative for Judah’s history that they are not even counted in the line of dynastic succession. When she learns of her son’s death, Athaliah decides to exterminate "all the royal family." But she is opposed by Jehosheba, the sister of Ahaziah, who saves from death Joash, one of the king’s sons, by hiding him in the temple. The child stays in the temple for six years until the priest Jehoiada makes a plot with the guards and succeeds in having the child proclaimed king by all the people. The child’s age is not important to the sacred author, what counts is his investiture as king by the Lord. It is in reality the Lord who governs his people, even through the weakness of a child. The queen Athaliah represents for Judah what Jezebel was for Israel; just as the Phoenician Jezebel had influenced the house of Ahad, so had Athaliah directed the history of the kingdom of Judah. Her decision to exterminate the king’s descendants, which appears to be her choice, would have broken God’s promise to his people to preserve David’s line for eternity. This promise was already in danger at critical moments in history, and at those times, too, the Lord guaranteed that there would always be a lamp burning before him in Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:36, 15:4, 2 Kings 8:19). At this juncture in the history of the kingdom of Judah, the hidden presence of the heir in the temple shines as a living representation of the image of the lamp of God’s promise that continues to burn. And there is no human decision, like Athaliah’s, that can break it. The theme of maternity that inevitably arises when talking about dynastic succession and the continuation of the house of David is not just about the biological transmission of life; it is also a spiritual continuity or even a spiritual maternity that depends on God. The law of the transmission of life in Israel is founded on another path, which the Lord himself controls: the path of the Spirit. It is the spiritual heredity that passes, for example, from Elijah to Elisha.


06/30/2010
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets


Calendar of the week
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4
Sunday, 4 December
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Monday, 5 December
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