Wednesday, June 9, 2021

 


Introduction to 1 Kings
 

Populated with majestic kings, beautiful princesses, scheming nobles, powerful wizards, and the quintessential evil queen, 1 Kings could almost be set in a fairy-tale world full of griffins and unicorns and magical swords. In fact, if you ever get bored with it, just use your imagination to throw in some fantasy elements, and it'll be better than Lord of the Rings. 1 Kings contains two very different central characters: King Solomon and Elijah. These two could hardly be more different: Solomon is rich, Elijah is not (as far as we can tell); Solomon lives in a spectacular palace, Elijah is often homeless; Solomon has servants at his beck and call, Elijah gets his food by begging or heavenly delivery service; Solomon is dignified and eloquent, Elijah is snarky; Solomon uses his brain, while Elijah uses brute, elemental force; Solomon is cool and calculated Elijah is a hot-headed spitfire; in the end Solomon succumbs to temptation, whereas Elijah (in 2nd Kings) is so pure he's taken directly to heaven before he even has a chance to die (2 Kings 2:11). By presenting these guys side-by-side in the same book, 1 Kings allows us to see both of them more clearly. They're like Captain Kirk and Spock. Woody and Buzz. Carlton and Will. They're convenient, cooperative opposites, and each helps us to better understand the other. And they're not the only foils you'll find in 1 Kings. You'll find a lot of opposites if you keep your eyes open, including within the same character/object/place. Amid all of these dissimilarities scattered across the pages, you'll start to see themes and patterns emerging that can help you understand the mythical enchanted kingdom epic that is 1 Kings.

Why Should I Care?

What would you do if you had superpowers? Would you use them only for good? Would you finally achieve world peace? End all hunger? Or just make your own life easier? Of course you wouldn't use it for evil… right? Maybe just a little bit? Some revenge? A pinch of pleasure here and there? What's the point of all that power if you can't use it to make yourself happy, right? Would your powers worry you at all? They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Are you sure you could handle it? Okay. We're done grilling you now.

1 Kings is the story of what happens to Israel after its greatest king, David (of David and Goliath fame), dies. Though his son, Solomon, looks for a while like he'll follow in ol' dad's footsteps, in the end he sets Israel up for disaster. As civil war breaks out and the people's rulers get worse and worse with each generation, we see that the stories in 1st Kings (some of which spill over into the next book, 2 Kings) are dominated by people with a lot of power—sometimes almost god-like power: Solomon possesses supernatural wisdom and unfathomable riches; Elijah has the very elements at his disposal; Ahab and Jezebel command legions of soldiers and priests; and the list goes on. How they each behave under these circumstances can be instructive for all of us, because although it might not seem like it now, you possess a lot of power and will probably gain a whole lot more of it as you grow up. Money, education, influence, position, physical strength, emotional awareness, and so on can all give you power over other people. What are you going to do with it?

The difference between Superman and General Zod lies in how each uses his powers. Although you probably can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, you do have the power to change the world in a million ways, whether subtly or in more visible ways. As you read about the extreme powers at play in 1 Kings, try to see past the sheer razzle-dazzle of it all and think about stuff like this. Someday, when you're a powerful politician, teacher, surgeon, mentor, writer, scientist, or mom, the world will be glad you did. 

 

JUNE 9 Wednesday in Octave of Corpus Christi 

1 Kings, Chapter 1, Verse 49-50

49 All the guests of Adonijah got up trembling, and went each their way, 50 but Adonijah, in FEAR of Solomon, got up and went to grasp the horns of the altar. 

In King David’s old age, he developed circulatory problems, and a beautiful young woman named Abishag was brought to the king to attend him and “keep him warm.” Abishag slept in the king’s bed to provide body heat, though she and David were never sexually intimate (1 Kings 1:1–4). After David’s death, his son Solomon became king. Shortly afterward, another of David’s sons, Adonijah, who had at one time tried to take over the kingdom, hatched another plot to wrest control from King Solomon. Adonijah’s first step was to ask Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to secure Solomon’s permission to give him Abishag as a wife. Adonijah’s request seems innocuous enough, but it was full of subterfuge. Solomon’s initial response was one of indignation. He said to his mother, “Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him—after all, he is my older brother” (1 Kings 2:22). Solomon rightly saw Adonijah’s desire to marry Abishag as part of his brother’s ongoing attempt to take over the kingdom of Israel. In those days of royal harems, taking possession of a king’s concubines was a declaration of one’s right to the throne. This had been one of Absalom’s methods when he led a coup against David (2 Samuel 16:22). Since Abishag was considered part of David’s harem, her marriage to Adonijah would have strengthened the usurper’s claim to the throne. In judgment for Adonijah’s request, Solomon said, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life!” (1 Kings 2:23). He quickly sent Benaiah, one of their father’s mighty men, to execute Adonijah. The tension between Adonijah and Solomon had been longstanding. Adonijah was older than Solomon and therefore, under normal circumstances, in line before Solomon for the throne. But God promised that Solomon would be king. Adonijah had already attempted to set himself up as king while David was still alive; when David was notified of the plot, he quickly made Solomon’s kingship official (1 Kings 1:38–40). Adonijah’s followers had fled, leaving him in a situation where he could have been killed for his rebellion. King Solomon mercifully granted Adonijah his life on the condition that he pay homage to the king and give up his claim to the throne (1 Kings 1:52–53).[1] 

What does it mean to grasp the horns of the altar? [2] 

The innocent blood of the bull represents life over death rubbed on the horn of salvation. The horns represent salvation, forgiveness of sins, and power over death, strength, and mercy for mankind which put together describes God. Rubbing the blood on the horn with a finger illustrates reconciliation of man with God and no death when the horn is touched because the sacrificial blood stands in the gap between man and God on his finger. So this is access to God through the blood of no sin which Adam housed before he disobeyed God. Adam had this power to cover Eve but chose disobedience instead of utilizing his power. Jesus is the blood between the finger and horn. That's the intercession for man.

 

The Mighty Men of David[3]

Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD. – 2 Samuel 23:16

The Old Testament contains some of the most remarkable stories. Many of these tales revolve around a young shepherd boy named David who grew up to become the great King of Israel. His ascension to the throne was not without difficulties. Shortly after he was anointed by the prophet Samuel, David fell out of favor with the establishment and had to flee for his life. He hid out in the wilderness outside of Jerusalem with a group of his loyal followers. The Bible calls this group “David’s mighty warriors.” David Jones, in his book



David’s Mighty Men
, describes David’s entourage as a magnificent, special elite force of fearless warriors. They were extraordinarily strong, courageous, unflinchingly brave, and completely committed to David. They were thirty-seven of the most fierce and dedicated warriors that ever lived. Jones writes,

They were a combination of combat commandos, stealth rangers, navy seals, green beret, special ops and Delta forces who had acquired the skills of battle demanded to survive and conquer in hand-to-hand warfare. They engaged in clandestine operations and were often outnumbered by staggering odds pitted against them, yet they stood their ground. Time after time on fields of battle they were the last men standing.

One story in 2 Samuel recounts a time when David’s mighty men overheard King David say, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” (2 Samuel 23:15). At this point in time, Israel’s hated enemies, the Philistines, had taken control of the city of Bethlehem. It was heavily guarded. The three mighty men, on their own, went down and fought their way through the lines of the Philistines. They made their way to the well in Bethlehem, where they drew water to take back to the young King. They eluded the pursuing Philistines, returned to their hideout, and presented the water to David. To their surprise, David would not drink the water they had risked their lives to retrieve. He poured it on the ground instead. David was not rejecting the sacrifice of the men who had gotten water for him. Rather, he was pronouncing their sacrifice too holy for him to selfishly consume. What an inspiring picture of the way Christians are called to live their lives. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that because Christ died for us, “…those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” This Old Testament story vibrantly illustrates the fact that we should not selfishly live our lives for ourselves. David poured the water out on the ground as a sacrifice to the Lord. Likewise, we are to take the priceless gifts that God has given us and pour them out as a sacrifice in service to Him and to our fellow man. This is what the Bible calls stewardship.

Stewardship is one of the most important and practical themes laid out in the Bible, and yet is often overlooked or minimized by Christians today. The Bible says a great deal about stewardship because this concept touches every area of our lives. The Disciple’s Study Bible defines stewardship as,

… a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with God and His plans for creation and purposes for humankind. The steward is God’s responsible representative and manager of all creation.

Apostolic Exhortation[4]

Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling

of The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix,
to Priests, Deacons, Religious and the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

My beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Part III

Loving and Adoring the Eucharistic Lord

69. Thus far we have stirred up our amazement at the Eucharistic mystery and have considered the nature of our total self-gift in response. Now we turn to how we might practically live out this mystery with greater faith and love for – as we pray at each Mass – “our good and the good of all His holy Church”? In other words, how concretely might we “follow the Ark” of the Eucharist into the future God has planned for us?

I. Make every Sunday the “Day of the Lord.”

73. Brothers and sisters in Christ, examine your experience of Sunday. Have you allowed Sunday to be like the other days of the week? Is the whole day set aside for your rejuvenation in God, or have you reduced the holiness of the day to an hour or two? Some persons are indeed required to work on Sunday, which of course is permitted. But for so many of us, Sunday could be more effectively “kept holy” with even minimal preparation and foresight.


74. The Saints always love Sunday and keep it holy. As a young girl, Saint Maria Goretti walked fifteen miles back and forth to Sunday Mass. Saint Lawrence of Brindisi once walked forty miles for Mass. In parts of Africa today, for example, some of our Catholic brothers and sisters walk for long hours to attend Mass. Families, individuals, and small communities who attempt to be good stewards of the Lord’s Day quickly discover a treasure which changes their whole experience of the week. Sunday is no longer just another day. It becomes the day of the Eucharist. It is the day of encountering the joy of the Risen Lord, who strengthens, nourishes, and sends them, together, on mission the rest of the week.

75. Think of the Sunday Eucharist as the sun which emits rays of warmth and light. If no rays shined forth, what good would the sun be for life on the earth? Similarly, if no good effects from Mass are perceptible on Sunday, our eyes become blind to the goodness and power of the Eucharist. I invite you: be bold in allowing rays of freedom, joy, and life to burst forth from Mass into the rest of your Sunday! How might the Lord desire that you allow these rays to shine forth precisely on Sunday? Here are some simple ideas for you to consider:

·         Choose a set time when you will go to Mass on Sunday and stick to it.

·         Find ways to make the experience of Sunday Mass truly joyful and festive, e.g., wear your best clothes, have a wonderful meal with loved ones afterward, have great music playing at home throughout day, telephone loved ones, enjoy a clean and renewed home – which means finishing domestic duties and chores on Saturday, spend time enjoying the Bible, savor something truly beautiful in nature or art, and perform simple works of charity.

·         Try to live the Lord’s Day from sunset on Saturday through Sunday evening.

·         Turn off your phone for extended periods of Sunday, if not the whole day.

·         If outside obligations threaten your Sunday, consider talking with your boss, family, or friends to find ways to move those commitments elsewhere.

To be continued

Where to Travel in June[5]

·     

Machu Picchu

Explore the incredible Inca ruins of Peru’s Machu Picchu, often called “Lost city of the Incas.” Take an adventurous climb to see the Temple of Condor and Sun Gate -- the end point for the Inca Trail. Visit in June to take advantage of the dry season and to avoid the heavy crowds in July and August.

·        Father's Day (June 20)

Don’t forget about Dad this month. Spend some extra time with your father figure by planning a trip to go fly fishing, rock climbing or skydiving. For a getaway minus the adrenaline-pumping thrills, we have a few Father’s Day travel ideas like a brewery tour in Portland, Oregon, or game of golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph

The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.

·         Devotion to the 7 Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph

·         Do the St. Joseph Universal Man Plan.

·         The Year of St. Joseph

 

Daily Devotions

·         Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·         Total Consecration to St. Joseph Day 6

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Universal Man Plan

  


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