KEEP YOUR HEAD
This month, in 1793, the woman christened Maria Antonia Josephina Johanna, known by her family and friends simply as Antonia, and known by the world as Marie Antoinette, was beheaded in France for crimes against the state.
During her short trial she was accused of (among other things) taking money from the French treasury and sending it to her home country of Austria, of orchestrating murder, of hosting orgiastic sexual parties at Versailles, and of incest with her own son. Even at the time most people did not believe many of these accusations and she replied in defense to none, except the accusation of incest: she passionately asked how any mother could accept this accusation without crying out, and it is said that she, at that moment, gained the sympathy of those women in the court.
But it was too late for her, the damage had been done. And this woman, just shy of 38-years-old, was already labeled, judged, and condemned…before the trial began. Those in authority simply didn’t like her and one stray tidbit of gossip from the court led to an elaboration, which led to a larger story, and so on and so on. Even today most people, when hearing her name, assume that the quote, “Let them eat cake.” (supposedly her response when told the people had no bread) is fact, when there is no actual corroboration.
Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI, were (to say the least) disconnected from those they were bound to serve and rule – but such was the world at that time, and the same could be said for some monarchs then, and some governments now.
The actual records, letters, and notes from those who surrounded the Queen at the time of the revolution, paint a picture of her. She seemed to be a young, frivolous, and extremely kind wife who refused to leave her husband, even when it was safe to do so and evacuation plans had been made. They tell of a woman who, in the face of vicious attacks upon her very moral fiber, refused to stay hidden but continued what limited “royal contact” she had with the people – like public mass on Sundays and walking through the streets of the markets with her children.
Her children, it is said, were her primary concern. She was the first Queen of France on record to have personally supervised and taught her own children. As much as has been said and painted about her lavish lifestyle, hair, jewels and clothes, she downsized the “costume of the court” so much so that the courtiers themselves rebelled at having to dress so “simply”.
She was a woman who seems to have stayed true to herself. Her last words were “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur, je ne l’ai pas fait exprès.”(“I’m sorry sir, I didn’t mean to do that.”) spoken when she accidentally stepped on the foot of the executioner before placing her head in the guillotine.
Except for the knowledge she was a firm Catholic to the end, I have no insight into her principles of “Belief & Following” Jesus. However, to see her remain upright while insults, stories, and lies of all kinds were thrown at her face, is to see a thing of gracious breeding & beauty.
The natural, or I should say the world’s, tendency is to defend every slap and verbal punch made in our direction. Christians, in particular, seem to have forgotten what Jesus said about, “turning the other cheek” (which doesn’t have to do with physical injury, but injury of reputation) and “letting it go.” No, on the contrary, many people who label themselves “Christian” enjoy letting everyone know how and who hurt and offended them.
JESUS stood in the face of lies and false testimony and remained silent: His presence alone was the answer his “judges” needed to see. He didn’t argue, He simply stood, He stated who He was, verbally AND silently, and let it go at that.
It is every Follower & Believer’s goal, I believe, to act and behave according to who they ARE and not according to how they are treated. This world needs those who are consistent in their integral behavior, in their goodness, and NOT those who spend their time in offensive attacks back to their attacker, or the constant arguing about how much better people they are than everyone else. We stand, as the scripture says, like trees rooted deep by the water, we may bend, but we don’t break. We hopefully use kind words to turn away anger, at least that’s the goal.
We love others because that’s who we are supposed to be: the ones who love. We don’t love our enemies (or friends) because they love us back. We tell the truth because the Truth is in us, and not just because the truth happens to make us look good…because many times it doesn’t. We lift each other up, not because we hope to be lifted up by others, but because we already have been lifted up by our Father in Heaven.
I’m sure that Marie Antoinette had some good training to help her survive and keep her head (pardon the pun) during the difficult times. But we know that breeding and training only go so far, it is the Breath of God, surging through our spiritual lungs that gives us the power to be who we are not by our own strength.
In the face of shallow praise and heartless insult, stand, a Restored and loved Child of the One True God, and thus show the world what faith is.