Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 375, June 25, II Kings 25:1-12. Psalm
137:1-2,3.4-5.6. Matthew 8:1-4:
Zedekiah is the last of the kings of Judah. He reigns for eleven years
(597-586 B.C.) and is taken to Babylon and blinded after seeing his sons
are slain before his eyes under the command of Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah is
listed among the evil kings of Judah. As we come to an end of the readings
from II Kings we may think of the Book of Ecclesiastes which contrasts the
different experiences of life. These ending chapters of Kings reminds us
of the verse: “A time for war and a time for peace.” (Eccl.3:8b). The holy
city was surrounded and besieged for seventeen months and then finally
fell. Jeremiah the prophet is central to the history of this last king of
Judah and is also exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah
would be led to Babylon; Ezekiel 12:13 prophesied that he would never see
it (his being blinded).
The brutality and violence of this time for Israel is still being
experienced in the hatred between many of the nations in the Middle East.
It is definitely a time of war and not of peace. Realizing this and hearing
the readings from II Kings in the liturgy we feel uneasy. We are hopefully
led to pray for peace among these nations. The Bible reveals who we are as
well as those whose history is recorded in its pages. We continue to trust
that God is the Lord of history and that God’s role is one of saving not
destroying or causing wars.
Psalm 137 in its last lines shows us the animosity between Judah and
Babylon. How could one sing one of their psalms in a foreign and oppressive
land in which they are captive and made sport of? The psalm is a
lamentation that helps us feel what the captives felt in the time of
Zedekiah. Today this fall of Jerusalem and the downfall of its walls and
leadership is remembered on the 9th of Av. There is a solemn fast of 25
hours that commemorates the destruction of the Temple. How difficult it is
to express joy and praise when one is in exile is felt within the verses of
the psalm. This lamentation psalm comes from the soul of a person who is
mourning and weeping upon being asked to sing a song for his captors–a
joyful song of Zion. He instead hangs up his harp on a tree and would
rather have his right hand be forgotten so that he cannot play the song and
that his tongue would be paralyzed and muted so that the scoffers and
taunters would not hear anything from him.
We are led to pray for peace and for the peace of Jerusalem the holy city
revered by all authentic believers. Jerusalem was, is, and always will be a
city that is a symbol for peace and the presence of God and God’s Son, the
Prince of peace.