Jun 19 – Memorial for St. Romuald, abbot
St Romuald (951-1027) had been an Italian noble. Acting as second, he witnessed his father kill a man in a duel, and sought to atone for the crime by becoming a Benedictine monk at Classe, Italy where he was abbot from 996–999.
A wanderer by nature, he established several hermitage and monasteries in central and northern Italy. He tried to evangelize the Slavs, but met with little success. He founded the Camaldolese Benedictines and spent the last fourteen years of his life in seclusion. His body which is enshrined in Italy remains incorrupt till this day.
– Patron Saint Index
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.’
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.’
Even the pagans do as much, do they not?
The first reading of today reminds us that God does keep track of every action which we do. For Ahab, his behaviour was unbecoming of that of a king and even that of a normal human being. His heart was bent towards evil and yet even in that heart was a source of remorse. This is perhaps the message of today’s Gospel – that God forgives everyone who seeks him with a contrite heart.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that the role of the Christian is a supernatural one. We need to discover that God’s essence is that of love. To follow that requires us to love the people around us despite the flaws which they may have. However, this means we also need to know what are some of the weaknesses of the people around us. We have our own flaws which we also need to be aware of. To love others is to first love ourselves. We need to be able to accept our own flaws before we can accept those of others.
As we continue with our journey of love in God, we will need to remind ourselves of the importance of showing love to others in both word and deed. Let us go and approach the Lord in a spirit of humility for Him to heal us in the hurts we possess.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to love our enemies.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who conduct spiritual retreats.