Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
The eulogy offered to King Chilperic I by Gregory of Tours is grim.
Gregory of Tours said of the King, “… in laying waste and burning districts he had no feeling of anguish .. but rather joy; like Nero before him, when he recited tragedies as the palace burned. He often punished men unjustly to get their wealth. … He was a glutton and his god was his belly.” Gregory called Chilperic’s writings “feeble little verses” and said, “he put short syllables for long, and long syllables for short.” Gregory adds, “he hated the interests of the poor… was constantly blaspheming… He called one [bishop] a lightweight, that one arrogant, another was a spendthrift, and this one a lecher…” The Bishop of Tours was ceaseless in his lambast of the King. [Footnote]
Gregory’s words for this dead king were not spoken at his burial. Bishop Mallulf of Senlis performed the burial rites and Chilperic was interred in Paris, not Tours.
The talk among the Brothers of Ligugè is mostly affirming the perspective that God is righteous, but also, that God judges the wicked with a kind of punitive vengeance I once believed was only something the most ancient mythology of Hebrew or Pagan religions could accept. I thought the teachings of Jesus and surely the more recent Jewish writings had amended these old and human-centric views of a vengeful God.
The God who is God known to us through the eons is the God who sent out the prophet Jonah. Jonah was sent to the worst of the worst sinners ever — to Ninivah of Babylon, in order to warn them and tell them to repent. Jonah, being human and all, believed this loving God who is God would hear the message and simply forgive the sinful nation with no worse retribution than Jonah himself suffered in being vomited by a fish. And that is what God did; he forgave Ninivah. There are lots of old Hebrew myths and stories of God who didn’t seem to punish adequately. [Jonah]
Why does it always surprise me that news spreads so quickly in these silent halls? Whatever it means, even our worship prayers are thanking God for this prevalence of righteous “justice” observed now in the death of a King. Personally, I wonder what will become of my granddaughter’s family enriched with the plunder when Chilperic ruled.
I’ve returned to my workstation.
Today the text I am assigned to copy is John 9, considering the question of blame in the case of the man born blind.
[Footnote] Murray, A.C., editor and translator, Gregory of Tours: The Merovingians Broadview Press, Ontario, 2000. page 145.