He removed from the entrance to the temple of the Lord the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melek. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon.
2 Kings 23:11,13
A reading from the Second Book of Samuel:
Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him:
“There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan,
“As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David,
“You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel:
‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah.
And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!
Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight?
You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword;
you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.
Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
Thus says the Lord:
‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house;
dand I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
For you did it secretly,
but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”
2 Samuel 12:1-18
A Psalm, from the Psalms:
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
A reading, from St Paul’s Letter to Titus
To Titus, a true son in our common faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of incorrigibility or insubordination. For an overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
A reading, from the Gospel According to Luke:
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them,
“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
And after a little while another saw him and said,
“You also are of them.”
But Peter said,
“Man, I am not!”
Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying,
“Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”
But Peter said,
“Man, I do not know what you are saying!”
Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him,
“Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
A Qur’anic Homily
Nothing is new in the readings today—only the call to righteousness, repentence, and patience. God is patient with you. Be patient with each other.
It is just a reminder for all the nations, and you will surely learn its tidings in due time.”
In this chapter, the Qur’anic author compares the Catholic episcopacy to the Davidic royal family. Given their position and power by God, they have – in the author’s view – turned it to selfish and idolatrous ends. The proper response is patience, as judgment will be God’s.
The Old Promises
The Qur’anic author is concerned with how the community of believers has fallen away from God. Specifically, the Qur’anic author is part of the “Arian” Catholic, which at one time accounted for the majority of bishops and teaches that Jesus is the perfect creature, but not God Himself. The Qur’anic author wrote just as apostolic succession – the ability for new bishops and priests to be created – was going extinct for the Arians, as no more Arian bishops could do these things.
The Qur’anic author reminds us this has happened before. The Old Creed of Abraham was superior to the more popular ones at the time:
Indeed, Abraham was a nation, obedient to God, a hanif, and he was not a polytheist. Grateful for his blessings, he chose him and guided him to a straight path. We gave him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he will indeed be among the righteous. Therefore, We revealed to you,
They consider it odd that there should come to them a warner from among themselves, and the faithless say,
‘This is a magician, indeed an odd thing!’
Their elite go about,
‘Go and stand by your gods! This is indeed the desirable thing to do. We do not hear of this in the latter-day creed. This is nothing but a fabrication.’”
In this chapter the Qur’anic author critiques those who reject the Arian creeds, either the Ulfrian Creed or his own version:
O People of the Book! Do not exceed the bounds in your religion, and do not attribute anything to God except the truth.
Jesus son of Mary,
was only an apostle of God, and
His word that He cast toward Mary, and
a Spirit from Him.
So have faith in God and His apostles, and do not say “Three,” Relinquish! That is better for you.
God is but the One God.
He is far too immaculate to have any son.
To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens
and whatever is on the earth,
and God suffices as trustee.
The Current Failures
The head of the Nicene branch of the Catholic Church – known today just as the Catholic Church – was the Pope. In patristic days the Pope was universally recognized as the successor of St Peter, Christ’s appointed regent and steward:
The power given to Kings and Popes are like horses. A king and a Pope must exercise poewr, as a ruler must use horses in a military sense. But putting faith in these creatures – treating them as if they are gods and turning them into idols – is a mistake.
Do they possess the treasures of the mercy of your Lord, the All-mighty, the All-munificent? Do they own the Kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth, and whatever is between them? Let them ascend by the means!
The Qur’anic author uses a Biblical example – King David – as a way of understanding God’s plan in the present age:
A blessed Book that We have sent down to you, so that you may contemplate its signs and that those who possess intellect may take admonition.
The Qur’anic author is deeply distressed by the successors to the apostles who claim they are gods:
The bishop, is the minister of the word, the keeper of knowledge, the mediator between God and you in the several parts of the worship. He is the teacher of piety; and, next after God, he is your father, who has begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit. He is your ruler and governor; he is your king and potentate. he is, next after God, your earthly God, who has a right to be honored by you. For concerning him, amid such as he, it is that God pronounces:
“I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all children of the Most High.”
Constitution of the Twelve Apostles II.IV.XXIV
The arrogance of these human “gods” before the faithful is compared to Satan refusing to recognize that humans will be greater than the angles. The apostles are direct to smell of their flock, not lord it over them:
When your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I am about to create a human being out of clay. So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down in prostration before him.”
Thereat the angels prostrated, all of them together, but not Iblis; he acted arrogantly and he was one of the faithless.
The authority given to the Pope – paralleled with King David – is as much a burdern as a gift. The stewardship is a cross, not an opportunity to lord it over others:
O David! We have indeed made you a viceregent on the earth. So judge between people with justice, and do not follow your desire, or it will lead you astray from the way of God. There is an indeed severe punishment for those who stray from the way of God, because of their forgetting the Day of Reckoning.
Remember the story of David, how after he had been given the Kingdom by God, he abused his power by stealing Uriah’s wife. The Prophet Nathan came to him with the story of a rich man with many lambs, and a poor man with only one.
This brother of man has ninety-nine ewes, while I have only a single ewe, and he says,
“Commit it to my care,” and he browbeats me in speech.”
“He has certainly wronged you by asking your ewe in addition to his own ewes and indeed many partners bully one another, except such as have faith and do righteous deeds, and few are they.”
Then David knew that We had tested him, whereat he pleaded with this Lord for forgiveness, and fell down in prostration and repented. So We forgave him that, and he has indeed nearness with Us and a good destination.
Judgment will be God’s:
The faithless indeed dwell in conceit and in defiance. How many a generation We have destroyed before them! They cried out, but gone was the time for escape.
But we should not judge, but be patient.
Be patient over what they say and remember Our servant, David, of strength. He was indeed a penitent. We disposed the mountains to glorify with him at evening and at dawn, and the birds, mustered, all echoing him.
We consolidated his kingdom and gave him wisdom and conclusive speech.
This is not just a hoary exertion. The Biblical narrative of David even supports this!
Space and time – salvation history – was itself created by God for a reason. These are not just arbitrary events and hardships that befall us. The error and repentance of David and Solomon – of Popes and bishops – is also repeated in your life.
We did not create the heaven and the earth and whatever is between them in vain. That is a conjecture of the faithless. So woe to the faithless for the Fire!
The Bible’s salvation history shows that God will use these disasters for good ends. God can draw straight lines on warped paper, and David’s repentance led to the reign of Solomon. And Solomon himself erred and repented. God is patient with us, so we should be patient with the successor of Peter:
And to David we gave Solomon – what an excellent servant he was! he was indeed a penitent. One evening when there were displayed before him prancing steeds, he said,
“I have indeed preferred the love of niceties to the remember of my Lord until disappeared behind the veil. Bring it back for me!”
Then he began to wipe legs and necks.
Certainly, We tried Solomon and case a body on his throne. Thereupon he was penitent. He said, “My Lord! Forgive me and grant me a kingdom that will not befit anyone except me. Indeed, You are the All-munificent!”
Improvement is not impossible. The Scriptures tell us of David’s and Solomon’s mistakes, but also Abraham’s faithfulness:
And mention our servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, men of strength and insight. We indeed purified them with exclusive remembrance of the abode. With us, they are indeed among the elect of the best.
God’s patience with the bishops, the Pope, or us will one day end in judgment. May we choose, believe, and act wisely, so our destination may be paradise as we grow ever-closer in love with God:
This is a Reminder and indeed the Godway have a good destination: the Gardens of Eden, whose gates will be flung open for them. Reclining therein, they will call for abundant fruits and drinks, and there will be with them maidens of restrained glances, of a like age. This is what you are promised on the Day of Reckoning. This is Our provision, which will never be exhausted.
God is all-merciful, but mercy depends upon repentance. Like much of the Qur’an, this chapter is a warning to come to repentance. God will forgive you – even if you are powerful and vainglorious, even if you have turned the power given to you into an idol – if you ask to be forgiven!
Say, I am a just warner, and there is no God except God, the One, the All-paramount, the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, the All-mighty, the All-forgiving.