16 June – Monday in the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 21:1-16
Naboth of Jezreel had a vineyard close by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria, and Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it adjoins my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it or, if you prefer, I will give you its worth in money.’ But Naboth answered Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors!’
Ahab went home gloomy and out of temper at the words of Naboth of Jezreel, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ He lay down on his bed and turned his face away and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came to him. ‘Why are you so dispirited’ she said ‘that you will not eat?’ He said, ‘I have been speaking to Naboth of Jezreel; I said: Give me your vineyard either for money or, if you prefer, for another vineyard in exchange. But he said, “I will not give you my vineyard”.’ Then his wife Jezebel said, ‘You make a fine king of Israel, and no mistake! Get up and eat; cheer up, and you will feel better; I will get you the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel myself.’
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, sending them to the elders and nobles who lived where Naboth lived. In the letters she wrote, ‘Proclaim a fast, and put Naboth in the forefront of the people. Confront him with a couple of scoundrels who will accuse him like this, “You have cursed God and the king” Then take him outside and stone him to death.’
The men of Naboth’s town, the elders and nobles who lived in his town, did what Jezebel ordered, what was written in the letters she had sent them. They proclaimed a fast and put Naboth in the forefront of the people. Then the two scoundrels came and stood in front of him and made their accusation, ‘Naboth has cursed God and the king.’ They led him outside the town and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel, ‘Naboth has been stoned to death.’ When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, ‘Get up! Take possession of the vineyard which Naboth of Jezreel would not give you for money, for Naboth is no longer alive, he is dead.’ When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel and take possession of it.
Jesus said, ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.’
Give heed to my groaning, O Lord.
Today’s readings cry out to our sense of justice and make us feel angry at the wanton abuse of power by Jezebel. It makes us wonder on the futility of living a good and virtuous life when all the evil ones are able to get their own way at the expense of others.
The instinctive response in these types of situations is to react in kind and ensure that the perpetuator is punished to a similar extent or more. Yet Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that this is not the way of a Christian. Instead, we should “…offer the wicked man no resistance.” This is a counter-intuitive response and many may find it unacceptable given the hatred that one has for the other party.
I believe that hate is ultimately self-destructive because it is driven by a motivation to harm another person. Love is life-giving because it makes us reflect on the deeper meaning of our actions. It is not in our position to determine the punishment that the enemies of ours are to face. Instead, we have to leave it to those who are given the responsibility to fulfil that role. We can ask the Lord to grant us the fortitude to bear these tribulations patiently.
(Today’s reflection by Nick Chia)
Prayer: Lord, I pray that you strengthen all who are currently suffering for their faith.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who seek to bring others to the road of healing and forgiveness.
17 June, Tue – 1 Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48
18 June, Wed – 2 Kings 2:1. 6-14; Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18
19 June, Thu – Sir 48:1-14; Matthew 6:7-15
20 June, Fri – 2 Kings 11:1-4. 9-18. 20; Matthew 6:19-23
21 June, Sat -2 Chornicles 24:17-25; Matthew 6:24-34 – Memorial of St Aloyious Gonzaga
22 June, Sun – Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33 – Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
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