First Reading: 1 Kgs 21:17-29
Psalm: Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 11 and 16
Gospel: Mt 5:43-48
Yesterday we read how Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, murdered Naboth so that her husband could take over Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab was guilty with his wife by complicity and all the more responsible since he was the king. The Prophet Elijah presented himself before the king to impose the sentence of God for his evil deed.
In a somewhat surprising reaction, Ahab repented. When he repented, the Lord forgave him and postponed the pronounced judgment against his dynasty. Jezebel however, did not repent and the prophecy was fulfilled in her case. God delayed his sentence in Ahab’s case in order to give him a chance to get his life in order. The truth is that God loved Ahab in spite of his terrible sins. God yearned for the complete and final repentance of Ahab. God preaches what he practices. Through his Son Jesus, we heard the teaching that we are to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. As children of the Father, we are to become like him. We see what we should be in his only begot ten Son, Jesus Christ who is his perfect image in the flesh. And what did Jesus do? He died for us while we were as yet sinners. He did not wait until we could somehow be counted worthy of his death. As for those who were physically putting him to death, his persecutors, he prayed for them from the cross.
It is no easy task to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors. But we should not complain that God is asking us to do something which he himself does not do. We have heard the teaching of Jesus. We also have before us the perfect example of his teaching which should be a sufficient motive for us to be even heroic in the love of our enemies. To love an enemy is a decision not to let another’s hostility control our reaction. Love admits of degrees. To love our enemies is to decide to assist that individual in various ways so that he could come closer to the light.