Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 370

No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Our readings today provide a powerful contrast; the first is a tragic story of betrayal, infidelity and punishment; the second, a beautiful teaching on reliance on the Providence of God. 

The Divine Author has little pity for the boy king Joash who listened to the princes of Judah and betrayed the faith of his deliverer Jehoiada.  When he murdered the prophet Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, Joash invited the wrath of God which fell upon him and Jerusalem. 

One of the ironies I've stumbled upon, in reading the history of Israel, is that Jerusalem was never united by one religion. There were always "princes of Judah" who worshipped alien gods. The kings of Jerusalem, descendents of King David and rightful heirs to the throne, always had to deal with these powerful foreign elements -- much to the consternation of the fuming priests and prophets of the old religion. 

Unlike other ancient capitals, there was always sedition in Jerusalem. Not everyone wants to love and trust and obey our God with our lips and our hearts. 

To make matters more difficult, even the most faithful people often discover dark places in our hearts where resentments, suspicions and fears have lay hidden as deeply as the infant Joash in the temple. 

Just when we're called to make a bold move in faith, those phantoms emerge to sabotage our willingness. 

I find that contrariness in the fact/meaning split of our everyday discourse. The same people who drive cars with fossil fuel, which was formed over billions of years, insist that God made the world in seven days. Romantics tote guns to protect themselves from the federal government despite the daily killing of innocents. Parents tell their children about Santa Claus but get upset when their children tell lies. People who have no intention of fidelity or bearing children get married. Many people are ready to elect a presidential candidate whose falsehoods, lies and fabrications are palpable -- just to show they don't like dishonest politicians. 

We say one thing and mean something else. We insist, "Do as I say, not as I do." Disney's Fantasyland reaches from coast to coast. 

God would not abide that hypocrisy in Jerusalem:
Though the Aramean force came with few men, the LORD surrendered a very large force into their power, because Judah had abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers. So punishment was meted out to Joash. After the Arameans had departed from him, leaving him in grievous suffering, his servants conspired against him because of the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest. He was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
 In today's gospel Jesus again invites us to seek righteousness: 
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. 
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” 

Joash and the princes of Judah trusted to their own wits to avoid the plague of foreign enemies. Had they trusted God, their fate would have been much happier. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.