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Speaking to the Soul: Over the Kings

Speaking to the Soul: Over the Kings

Week of Proper 26, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 69:1-23(24-30)31-38 (morning) // 73 (evening)

Ecclesiasticus 50:1,11-24

Revelation 17:1-18

Luke 13:31-35

Our reading from Revelation this morning warns us about something more dangerous and overpowering than any of the world’s petty tyrants. The passage describes a woman riding a scarlet beast and calls her “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” This description reverses the way that we typically rank units of sovereignty: How can a “city” be more powerful than whole kingdoms? But the reality of our world is that many entities transcend the sovereign boundaries of nations, to our harm.

Cooperation and solidarity among nations can be tools that protect human rights and preserve peace. Yet, other forms of transnational power can overrule the needs and well-being of people and creation. For the author of Revelation, it was the Roman empire that trumped local kings. For us, that powerful “city” might be transnational corporations, global trade, or demands for energy that subordinate life and health to higher profits.

The woman on the scarlet beast hoards wealth to herself, wearing luxury fabrics, precious metals, and priceless jewels. The woman is intoxicated from drinking the blood of saints and martyrs. Thus, she exhibits inequities of wealth and embodies the violence involved in maintaining an empire. The beast that she rides has ten horns, which represent ten kingdoms, but something else is holding their reins. The people of God, and the kingdom of God, are up against something much bigger than kings.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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