Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
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 Chronicles 24, 1-27
Joash was seven years old when he came to the throne and he reigned for forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba.
Joash did what Yahweh regards as right throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.
Jehoiada found him two wives and he fathered several sons and daughters.
Later, Joash made up his mind to repair the Temple of Yahweh.
Calling the priests and the Levites together, he said, 'Go out to the towns of Judah and collect money from all Israel for annual repairs to the Temple of Yahweh. Do this quickly.' But the Levites were in no hurry,
so the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and said, 'Why have you not insisted on the Levites' bringing in the tax from Judah and Jerusalem for the Tent of Witness, as imposed by Moses servant of Yahweh and the community of Israel?' --
Athaliah and her sons, whom she corrupted, despoiled the Temple of God and even assigned all the sacred revenues of the Temple of Yahweh to Baal.
So, at the king's order, a chest was made and put outside the gate of the Temple of Yahweh,
and a proclamation was issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem that the tax, which Moses servant of God had imposed on Israel in the desert, was to be brought to Yahweh.
Then all the officials and all the people gladly brought in their contributions, depositing them in the chest until the payment was complete.
Whenever the chest was brought by the Levites for royal inspection and found to contain a large sum of money, the king's secretary and the chief priest's representative would come and empty the chest and then have it returned to its place. This was done day after day and a great deal of money was collected.
The king and Jehoiada handed it over to the foreman attached to the Temple of Yahweh, and the hired masons and carpenters set about repairing the Temple of Yahweh; and iron-workers and bronze-workers laboured to repair the Temple of Yahweh.
The workmen got on with the task -- the repair work made good progress at their hands -- until they had restored the Temple of God to its former state and reconditioned it.
When they had finished, they brought the balance of the money to the king and Jehoiada, and with this vessels were made for the Temple of Yahweh, vessels for the liturgy and for the burnt offerings, bowls and other gold and silver vessels. And the perpetual burnt offering was offered in the Temple of Yahweh throughout Jehoiada's lifetime.
But Jehoiada, growing old, had his fill of days and died. He died at the age of a hundred and thirty years,
and was buried with the kings in the City of David because he had served Israel and God and his Temple well.
After Jehoiada's death the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king listened to their advice,
and they abandoned the Temple of Yahweh, God of their ancestors, for the worship of sacred poles and idols. Judah and Jerusalem incurred wrath because of this guilt of theirs.
He sent their prophets to lead them back to Yahweh; these put the case against them, but they would not listen.
The spirit of God then invested Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, 'God says this, "Why transgress Yahweh's commands to your certain ruin? For if you abandon Yahweh, he will abandon you."
They then plotted against him and, at the king's order, stoned him in the court of the Temple of Yahweh.
Thus King Joash, forgetful of the devotion which Jehoiada father of Zechariah had displayed on his behalf, murdered his son, who cried out as he died, 'Yahweh will see this and avenge it!'
At the turn of the year, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. When they reached Judah and Jerusalem, they massacred all the nation's government officials and sent all their booty to the king of Damascus.
Although the invading Aramaean army was only a small body of men, Yahweh allowed them to defeat a very large army because they had abandoned Yahweh, God of their ancestors; thus they executed judgement on Joash. After they had retired -- for they left him seriously wounded-
his own retainers plotted against him to avenge the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest and murdered him in his bed. When he died he was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
These were the conspirators: Zabad son of Shimeath the Ammonite and Jehozabad son of Shimrith the Moabite.
As regards his sons, the heavy tribute imposed on him, and the restoration of the Temple of God, this is recorded in the Commentary on the Book of the Kings. His son Amaziah succeeded him.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
long chapter 24 begins by affirming the good governance of Joash. He was a boy of just seven years when he ascended the throne and ruled for forty years. Following his spiritual master, the high priest Jehoiada, the king ruled with wisdom. But with the death of the high priest, and without a spiritual leader, the king no longer followed the ways of the Lord. At first the Chronicler notes that “Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of the priest Jehoiada” (v. 2). In this statement, it is not difficult to see the opportunity or rather the need for having an aid to discern God's will and not succumb to our own. The tradition of a “spiritual father” to help escape the spiral of self is already found in these pages of Scripture. The Chronicler shows satisfaction in the action of Joash for restoring the temple in accordance with Jehoiada. Both were prominent figures among the people. The temple had to be restored because of the miserable state in which the evil Athaliah and all her attendants had left it, profaning the Lord's house and using the sacred objects for the worship of foreign idols. And everyone had to participate, as Moses had established (Ex 30:12-16). Joash ruled that all the people had to go to Jerusalem to throw money in a special basket, as if to show the common desire to restore the splendour of the place of God's presence. The entire community was to be concerned with the temple and therefore with the conservation of the covenant with the Lord. As in the days of David (1 Chr 29:9), even now the whole community rejoiced in bringing their offerings to the Lord (2 Chr 34:10). The people responded generously, as they had done previously in the case of the tent in the desert (Ex 36:4-7). Every day, when the box was full, it was emptied and restored to its place. For this delicate operation, a series of formal procedures was followed. The Levites in charge of the collection brought the case to be supervised by the king, through his secretary, and also by the high priest, through his unnamed nominee. The king and the high priest, both anointed, shared responsibility for the supervision. There is a remarkable correspondence between the work required for the construction of the temple under David and Solomon and that required for its restoration. The temple was restored to its original state. The praise of the priest Jehoiada indicates his authority to the king and the people. The Lord gives him a longer age than that of Aaron (one hundred twenty-three years, Num 33:39), that of Moses (one hundred twenty years, Deut 34:7) and that of Joshua (one hundred and ten years, Joshua 24:29). He is remembered especially for two things: leading the “true Israel” to restore the covenant with the Lord and promoting the restoration of the temple. He was buried in the tombs of the kings. Unfortunately, Joash and the people, without the help of the high priest Jehoiada, “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” (v. 18). The Lord raised up prophets in their midst so that they should repent, “but they would not listen” (v. 19). This story repeats itself often. Self-sufficiency dulls the mind and blinds the heart. When authoritative words are not heard, people move away from God. But the Lord, not resigned to our deafness, sends an even louder voice - in this case, the prophet Zechariah who warns people in an even stronger way. But they stoned him in the temple. Here we can already see the story of Jesus and also that of all the martyrs who with their blood paid their testimony to the Gospel. The killing of the prophet, that is the violent rejection of the Word of God, puts the people of Judah into the hands of the enemy. “Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has also forsaken you” (v. 20). The army of the Arameans enters the territory of Judah and Jerusalem. And the first to fall are those who had advised the king badly. But the disaster also involves the great army of Judah that, because of the disobedience of the people, is left to the mercy of a few enemy soldiers.