Tuesday 14 June 2022 Week 11 in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 21:17-29
After the death of Naboth, the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Up! Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, in Samaria. You will find him in Naboth’s vineyard; he has gone down to take possession of it. You are to say this to him, “The Lord says this: You have committed murder; now you usurp as well. For this – and the Lord says this – in the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, the dogs will lick your blood too.”’
Ahab said to Elijah, ‘So you have found me out, O my enemy!’ Elijah answered, ‘I have found you out. For your double dealing, and since you have done what is displeasing to the Lord, I will now bring disaster down on you; I will sweep away your descendants, and wipe out every male belonging to the family of Ahab, fettered or free in Israel. I will treat your House as I treated the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah, for provoking my anger and leading Israel into sin. (Against Jezebel the Lord spoke these words: The dogs will eat Jezebel in the Field of Jezreel.) Those of Ahab’s family who die in the city, the dogs will eat; and those who die in the open country, the birds of the air will eat.’
And indeed, there never was anyone like Ahab for double dealing and for doing what is displeasing to the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the most abominable way, adhering to idols, just as the Amorites used to do whom the Lord had dispossessed for the sons of Israel.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put sackcloth next his skin and fasted; he slept in the sackcloth; he walked with slow steps. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; I will bring the disaster down on his House in the days of his son.’
Psalm 50 Have mercy on us, Lord, for we have sinned.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
It is certainly very easy to love those who love us. But Jesus urges us to go a step further, “if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?”. To love our enemies, that is, to love those we know for sure will never return our affection, or our smiles, or any favour.
A Christian, is called to love and not love in a ‘self-interested’ way. This is the meaning as you know of ‘agape’, or true charity. To love because love in itself is a value, is a value worth living out of. For loving others may or may not bring a response from others, but it will it transforms us, and our hearts will grow in love. By loving we become more loving, more willing, freer to give without return. Like Jesus who on the cross forgave those who crucified him. To love regardless of the person or object of our love is the greatest kenosis, the deepest self-emptying. Love cleanses us. It purifies us. It honours our dignity and strengthens our faith and hope.
Teilhard De Chardin wrote, “Love alone can unite living beings, so as to complete and fulfil them…For it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of people and of the earth.”