Friday 21 June 2024

About Today Readings

St Aloysius Gonzaga. Day of penance.

2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling – Psalm 131(132):11-14, 17-18. Matthew 6:19-23.

The true king is spared by the heroism of his aunt

When one thinks of the great women of the Old Testament, the usurper Athaliah might not come to mind. Amid one of the darkest periods in the divided monarchy, she takes the throne and continues the disastrous apostasy of her son and family. In a power grab, she has many of her own family, probably including grandchildren, killed. The future rightful king, Jehoash, is only spared by the heroism of his aunt Jehosheba and a nurse. Though that is two for the great women column, I think Athaliah’s story itself is a strange affirmation of women. In a sense Athaliah is unremarkable – she seizes power brutally and rules awfully, like all but a few of the men listed in Kings. However, she is also a decisive agent and hardly a bashful, gentle member of the ‘fairer sex’. And despite being a woman, she meets the same end as many of the monsters who litter her lineage.

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