I have always been interested in the stories of the Kings of Judah and Israel as accounted in the Bible’s books of 1st/2nd Kings and 1st/2nd Chronicles. When the topic is raised among most Christian people, I would suggest that people recall the reign of King David and the stories of his son, King Solomon – and conclude that the era of the Kings was a good thing. They easily forget that Saul was the first king and his reign did not end well. Nor did Solomon’s. And David had his own spectacular moral failures. Apart from King Josiah, the rest of the Kings of Judah and Israel are judged harshly by Scripture, failing to do their duty to God and the covenant people, falling prey to the corruption of power.
It not just kings of all place and times; it applies to Popes and Franciscans. Francesco della Rovere was a Franciscan and Minister General of the Order. He was noted for his humility and commitment to the values of the Franciscan Order. In 1471 he was elected pope and took the name Sixtus VI. In his time as pope he was noted for nepotism, lavish spending, and involvement in the infamous Pazzi conspiracy.
King, Popes, Franciscans: the English Catholic historian, politician, and writer, Lord Acton would have well understood their corruption.
Over the last two pastor’s columns I have been talking about stories: sharing your story with God as part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and just last week, sharing your stories of God with your family. And I continue to think about our stories of faith and this life of grace.
One of the amazing moments of my sojourn to Israel this summer was actually holding mustard seeds in my hand. And, trust me, you had to look very closely. I took a picture and when I show it to people most guess that it is very fine grains of dirt. When I say that it is a mustard seed, then the power of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed comes to the fore. Continue reading
The children’s rhyme insists that “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yet anyone who has comforted a teased child knows the emptiness of the adage. We all know from experience that the sharp, cold edge of the sword of a single word can cut to the quick, leaving wounds of a lifetime. Indeed, sticks and stone can break bones, but words… words have their own power. Continue reading
Imagine four persons in a room. The first is a powerful dictator who rules a country. He commands armies, directs the lives of millions, and his wishes become law and are enforced. He possesses a brutal power. Next to him sits a gifted athlete at the pinnacle of his physical prowess. This is one whose speed, strength, and endurance have few equals. His is a graceful power for which he is much admired and envied. The third person is a rock star whose music and charisma electrify sold out arenas. Her words can become the anthem for a generation. Her power is a soulfulness of the muse. The fourth person in the room is a newborn, a baby, lying in its crib, unable to clearly ask for what it needs. Continue reading