In my experience when you ask folks about the Kings of Israel and Judah, you are likely to get an “Oh, yeah… like King David and King Solomon.” Some might know more of the names of kings, such as Saul or Hezekiah, but no one will be able to name them all (nor can I). But stop a moment and think about the whole ideas of Kings. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua -all great names in the history of the people of Israel – but none of them were kings. There were prophets and judges, heroes and heroines, but from where came the kings?
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king…” Kings? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua – some of the great names of Israel’s history. And none of them were king. Yet under the leadership of God, they led Israel from slavery to the freedom of the promised land. Deborah, Gideon, Samson – none of them were kings, yet under the leadership of God, these Judges united Israel to defend itself and its identity against the other nations. To be the qahal Yahweh – the people of God. And the last of the judges was Samuel. It was to Samuel (1 Sam 7) that the people came and said “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.” When Samuel prayed about this before the Lord, God said in answer: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” And God warned the people of the rights of those other kings: Continue reading
This week has been a week in which the first readings are from the Prophet Hosea. It seems to me that whenever the first reading is proclaimed the faithful are lost in a pool of unfamiliar names, a message that has been lifted out of its context, and all that makes it a little more challenging for the Word from the prophet to reach the people. So, this week I have been preaching the 1st reading and told folks that I would provide short introduction to the Prophet Hosea and his writings. Continue reading
The readings from daily Mass this week past should have been labeled “King and Prophet week.” Every day the first readings was a narrative about one of the Kings of Israel or Judah, a summary of their reign, and the proclamation of the prophets which came before them with the living Word of God. Prophets like Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah; as well as prophets whose names are unfamiliar to us; and prophets whose names were not recorded in Sacred Scripture. Kings that might not be familiar to you, but are a cast of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Two of the best were part of the narrative: Hezekiah and Josiah – kings held in almost the same esteem as King David – godly men who understood their role as leader – to lead the people of God more deeply into the covenant life and promises of God. Two of the worst were recounted: Hoshea the last of the northern kings and Zedekiah, the last of the Kings of Judah. They ruled with iniquity as had most of their predecessors. When they disappeared into exile, the time of Kings passed and all of Israel and Judah followed int exile, the promised land lost. Continue reading
The image is of a painting by Peter Paul Rubens (17th c.), “The Defeat of Sennacherib.” King Sennacherib was the King of Assyria who attempted to conquer Judah and capture Jerusalem in the 7th century BCE. You can read a summary of the encounter with King Hezekiah of Judah in the first reading from yesterday. Continue reading