Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(II Kings 11:1-4.9-18.20; Matthew 6:19-23)
Today’s first reading will seem odd to many. Not only are the characters involved in the story unfamiliar. It also tells a sordid tale, hardly edifying as part of the word of God. Many will want to ignore it and move on to the gospel. However, the Church has chosen this reading for a purpose which begs illumination.
After Ahab’s wife Jezebel had Naboth, the poor farmer, killed and his land expropriated, Ahab repented. It was said that God was pleased with Ahab’s change of heart and did not punish him. Rather Ahab’s descendants would suffer the consequences of his offenses. This saga is played out with Athaliah, Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter. She married Jehoram, the corrupt king of Judah. Jehoram died leaving his son Ahaziah king; and Athaliah, the queen mother. Jehu of Israel killed Ahaziah along with another Jehoram, the king of Israel, and most of Ahab’s other descendants. In this way Ahab’s dynasty in Israel ended. Meanwhile Athaliah seized power over Judah. She had all claimants to its throne killed, including her own descendants. However, one of Ahaziah’s sons, Joash, was rescued. The high priest eventually anointed Joash king and had Athaliah slain.
The gruesome story illustrates what Jesus teaches in the gospel. We have to make treasures of the right things. If we want power to rule over people without regard to caring for them in God’s name, we will come to ruin. But if we use the authority given to us for true human welfare, we will prosper in God’s eyes.