King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Rubens, 1620
Today's gospel is Luke 11:29-32 in which Jesus mentions 'the queen of the South'. She is also known as the Queen of Sheba. Some scholars say she was from Yemen, others from Ethiopia. Yemen is one of the Arab countries that is unsettled at the moment. Two days ago President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, promised to step down 'in a few days'. It seems very few believe him. The day before his announcement Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni woman was announced as one of three winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Yemen's Catholics belong to the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, which also includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Catholics number 2,129,000 or 3.4 percent of the overall population of 62,498,240. However, in 1950 they numbered 5,840 or 0.1 percent of 10,000,000. The increase in the number and percentage of Catholics is due to the influx of overseas workers in recent decades, especially from the Philippines.
The bishop of the vicariate is Most Rev Paul Hinder OFMCap from Switzerland. All nine bishops have been Capuchin friars.
A special prayer today for the people of Yemen, especially for the Catholics there, would not go astray as we recall the Queen whom Jesus speaks about, whether or not Sheba was Yemen.
Here is the gospel in the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition:
When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.