Three Kings (and a Queen)
22 June 2018
Today (and tomorrow’s) Mass reading are a brilliant lesson in true kingship.
In today’s first reading, the murderous Queen Athaliah, mother of the late unlamented and evil King Amaziah of Judah, springs a coup but herself is later the victim of a counter-coup. Tomorrow we will discover that her killer, Joash, now king, turns against the Lord and receives his just deserts from foreigners. Earlier this week King Ahab of Israel and his wife Jezebel (Athaliah’s parents) rampaged their way through Israel.
Follow all that?
Today’s and tomorrow’s Psalms sing of God’s love for Joash’s ancestor King David and His promise to David’s successors. We might be tempted to ask why the Lord bothered.
We have a well-intentioned but deeply flawed king in David and a very dubious line of kings and queens typified by Joash and Athaliah. And what of the Lord’s promises to David that his line would last forever? The Davidic succession died conclusively with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. Modern Israel has a President, not a King.
The answer lies in the Gospel readings. In contrast to the Machiavellian dealings of his ancestors, Jesus spoke not of power and wealth but detachment and trust. This king wants us to amass riches, but not here. His kingship will be of service, not power. Self-sacrifice, not dominance. Love not murder.
God keeps his prophetic promises. On Mt Moriah, he promised Abraham that he would provide a sacrifice in place of Abraham’s son Isaac. To David the Psalmist on Mt Zion he promised an eternal succession in kingship. Jesus is the priestly sacrifice. Jesus is the undying king. Jesus is Priest, he is Prophet, and he is King.
In a world now, as then, of cynical and ruthless self-interest, Jesus offers us another way; to place our hopes in him.
God always keeps his promises.