The Queen Mother
The royal and messianic Kingdom of David had its capital in Jerusalem from 1004BC until 586BC when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and took many people into exile in Babylon. Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, the true King of Judah and heir of David ruled the kingdom from Jerusalem. Next to the king, the second most important person in the Kingdom of Judah was the Queen Mother.
The Queen Mother possessed a powerful influence over the kingdom. This power and authority flowed from her status as the mother of the king, not from her own personal importance. The Queen Mother was flesh and blood link between the previous king and the new king. The previous king was her husband, and the current king was her son.
King Solomon instituted the formal place of the Queen Mother when he ascended to the throne of his father King David. One of the first things King Solomon did after he became king was to place a throne at his right hand and seat his mother there.
Listen to this from the First Book of Kings (2:12-19): “So Solomon sat upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was firmly established…So [his mother] Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak with him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought out for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right.”
We just heard that King Solomon rose to greet his mother and bowed down to her. Not because he worshipped her as a goddess, but rather because he as King understood the honor due to Queen Mother. Her presence in the court signified that Solomon was the legitimate heir of King David because she literally served as the flesh and blood link between father and son.
Also note that the Queen Mother is interceding for someone. She is taking a request of Adonijah to her son King Solomon. We Catholics do the same thing when we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us. We ask her to take our requests, our prayers, to her son our Lord Jesus Christ.
After the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem and the temple are in the southern kingdom of Judah. With only a few exceptions, every time the name of the new king of the southern kingdom is listed in the First or Second Book of Kings, his mother’s name is listed a verse or two after his name. The mother of the king was important enough that her name is almost always listed with her son’s name. In addition, we find this in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (13:18): “Say to the king and to the queen mother: Come down from your throne.”
Jeremiah was prophesying at the time of the destruction of the Southern Kingdom and Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It was going to be the end of the kings from the line of King David, and the end of the southern kingdom. The end of the kings from the line of King David would come about by the dethronement of the Davidic king and his mother. Jeremiah didn’t say to the king only, “Come down from your throne.” He said that to the king and to the Queen Mother. The Queen Mother was so important that the end of the kingdom meant that she must also be deposed. In fact, when Babylon first captured Jerusalem in 597BC, the scriptures specifically mention that one of the persons that the Babylonians took back with them to Babylon was the king’s mother (see 2Kings 24:15).
Today’s first reading was from the Book of Revelation. As you know, the Book of Revelation uses a lot of symbolic language. However, we can discern from the reading we heard today that the woman in the passage must be the Blessed Virgin Mary. The passage (Rev 12:1) describes her as wearing a “crown of twelve stars.” She’s a queen. In fact, at the end of the passage we heard that (Rev 12:5) “Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” She’s a queen, and her child is on a throne, so he must be a king, so that would make the woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen Mother.
We see here that it is quite natural for Catholics to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her son is a true Davidic King, and she is rightly enthroned at his right hand as the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of God. The exalted place of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism did not arise from medieval superstition but from a Jewish understanding of kingship.
We celebrate today the Assumption of Mary into heaven. Jesus is the King of the Heaven, so it makes sense that his mother, who is also the Queen Mother, would be seated at his right hand in heaven. Since by a special grace from God, Mary was without sin for all her life, she could be assumed into heaven body and soul, and there take her place at Jesus’ right hand just like the Queen Mothers did in Jerusalem from King Solomon until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
Jesus honors his mother with a seat at his right hand in heaven. He wants to honor us with a place in his kingdom. All we need to do is live as he taught for He who is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) wants to lead us all the way to heaven so that we can join Mary and all the Saints in giving praise and glory to God. Amen?
A large part of this homily is taken directly from pages 52-54 of The Crucified Rabbi by Taylor R. Marshall, St. John Press, 2009
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