Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(II Kings 11:1-4.9-18.20; Matthew 6:19-23)
Jesus’ parable in today’s gospel comparing one’s eye to a lamp is notoriously hard to understand. He seems to mean that how one sees reality determines the soundness of the person. If someone looks at things greedily by desiring to accumulate wealth and power, that person is not healthy inwardly. But if the person realizes that wealth and power are not as valuable as goodness and truth, then the person stands in sound health.
Jesus’ lesson is borne out in the first reading. Athaliah is the daughter of the wicked Ahab and Jezebel of Israel, and wife of King Jeroram of Judah. When her husband and son are killed, Athaliah attempts to have all Jeroram’s other children slain so that she can sit on Judah’s throne. The scheme falters, however, when prince Joash, Jeroram’s son evidently by another woman, is rescued. Athaliah rules Judah for six years, but she is slain as Joash is anointed king.
We must be wary of wealth and power. They are not evil in themselves, but they can create desire that will cause us to sin. Rather than pine for riches and control, we are wise to pray for wisdom on our own behalf and on behalf of our leaders.