Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Following the Money

Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels

Daily Readings
Sirach 25 + II Kings 12 + II Chronicles 23 + Revelation 12:7-12

Quote of the Day
I take pleasure in three things, and they are beautiful in the sight o fGod and of mortals: agreement among brothers and sisters,
friendship among neighbors,
and a wife and a husband who live in harmony. Sirach 25:1

Daily Text: II Kings 12

Following the Money
Succinct biographical summaries of the life of a person, whether king or peasant, seem always instructive and here we have one of those. This summary is organized into five ‘chapters.’ The first, Joash’s accession to the throne, second, his confrontation of the priestly hierarchy in his 30th year, third, new arrangements made for the upkeep of the temple, fourth, an example of his dealing with an external threat, and finally his manner of dying.

His mother was Zibiah of Beer-sheba, his father, of course, Ahaziah, king of Judah. Zibiah would have been a wife with less influence than Athaliah, and such discrepancy in birth position, he being the youngest, in his first year at the death of his father, would have always followed him among the influential at court. He who wears the crown is subject to threat from many sources. His greatest fortune was in being protected by Jehosheba, his father’s sister, who probably resented Athaliah, his father’s wife, resented her enough to hide Joash from her. That good fortune was augmented by Jehosheba’s husband who was Jehoiada, the chief priest, who raised the young Joash to fear the LORD and be crowned king. Jehoida’s influence evidently kept Joash on the straight and narrow all Jehoiada’s days, or least many of them, for he became very aged, dying at age 130 during Joash’s lifetime. Jehoiada may well have been in his middle 80’s when Joash was still a child.

In the 23rd year of his reign Joash tackles the priesthood, a powerful political cadre in his and every other administration in Judah. It is probably safe to say that the matured young king needed to take a hand, Jehoiada probably being old enough to have lost his grip over the younger men in the temple administration. They were responsible for the maintenance of the structure and received plenty of money to keep it up. But rather than that they were keeping it for themselves. So for Joash to tackle not just the priests, but those who controlled a source of considerable wealth was indeed a courageous act. He was able to negotiate that they would keep certain obligatory taxes and relinquish the voluntary offerings and the responsibility for building maintenance.

Then with Jehoida’s help he set up a locked receptacle for offerings and a procedure for counting and distributing the money. That is, the king’s own secretary and the high priest, both honest and responsible individuals counted the money together and then gave it to those who superintended the repairs to the temple. It is noteworthy to notice that so exemplary were the workmen, so completely honest, in contrast to the priests, that no further accounting was necessary!

Late in Joash’s life, Hazael of Aram threatened Jerusalem after slicing off a nearby city from Israel ruled by Jehu. Joash bought him off with significant sums of gold reserves. His weakness in this could not have been appreciated by his subjects. It is noteworthy that while II Kings represents this as a negotiated settlement, II Chronicles 24 indicates that Hazael had sent a few soldiers and those few fought effectively against the much larger army of Joash and wounding the king defeated the army. At the very least, Joash was not a military man, and in his weakness paid his way out of certain defeat.

While he was lying wounded, two foreign men of his household, perhaps mercenaries, conspired to end his life, and so what had been in large part a successful and faithful reign ended under of a cloud of military compromise and internal intrigue. In the end YHWH did not support the man who had started so faithfully to exalt YHWH, but did not continue.

Judgment Day
John Oxenham

Every day is Judgment Day,
Count on no to-morrow.
He who will not, when he may,
Act to-day, to-day, to-day,
Doth but borrow
Sorrow.
427:97

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