Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time


 

Reading 1 (1 Kgs 21:17-29):

After the death of Naboth the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite:
"Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel,
who rules in Samaria.
He will be in the vineyard of Naboth,
of which he has come to take possession.
This is what you shall tell him,
'The LORD says: After murdering, do you also take possession?
For this, the LORD says:
In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth,
the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.'"
Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me out, my enemy?"
"Yes," he answered.
"Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the LORD's sight,
I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you
and will cut off every male in Ahab's line,
whether slave or freeman, in Israel.
I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat,
and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah,
because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin."
(Against Jezebel, too, the LORD declared,
"The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.")
"When one of Ahab's line dies in the city,
dogs will devour him;
when one of them dies in the field,
the birds of the sky will devour him."
Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil
in the sight of the LORD as did Ahab,
urged on by his wife Jezebel.
He became completely abominable by following idols,
just as the Amorites had done,
whom the LORD drove out before the children of Israel.

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments
and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh.
He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued.
Then the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite,
"Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me?
Since he has humbled himself before me,
I will not bring the evil in his time.
I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son."

Gospel (Mt 5:43-48)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P. 

 

I. THEME: Let love, forgive, pray and do good for our enemies.

            Many Christians think what Jesus taught in today passage exceeds human capacity. It is already difficult not to oppose or to prosecute; but it is impossible to love, to forgive, to pray and to do good for their enemies. Jesus certainly doesn’t require his disciples to do impossible things; he gives reasons for doing and necessary grace for people to do it.

            Today readings give us two main reasons why we don’t need to revenge. In the first reading, God is the One who punishes the wicked people. He sent the prophet Elijah to declare the punishments for queen Jezebel and king Ahab. The queen shall be devoured by dog in the district of Jezreel. Every male in Ahab's line shall be cut off; "When one of Ahab's line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him." In the Gospel, Jesus demands his disciples to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect, by loving, forgiving, praying and doing good deeds for their enemies.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Revenging the wicked belongs to God

           

1.1/ God shall return to everyone according to their deeds: In yesterday passage, we felt indignant with king Ahab and even more so with queen Jezebel. In today passage, we see God’s justice to them because nothing, even best-keep secret, can be hidden from Him.

            God sent the prophet Elijah to Ahab and declared His punishments for him, “Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the Lord's sight, I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab's line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin...  When one of Ahab's line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him.”  

            To Jezebel, the mastermind of the plan, "The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel." This punishment was fulfill and reported in 2 Kings 9:35-36 and the punishment, “When one of Ahab's line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him” was fulfilled and reported in 2 Kings 9:25-26.

1.2/ King Ahab’s repentance: Though Ahab feared God, he was a weak king. Since he didn’t have a firm faith, he heard his wife’s incitement to do abominable things before God. This should be an example for Christians. They shouldn’t marry with a Gentile wife because she might make them to worship her idols. She might incite him to do abominable things because she doesn’t believe in God’s teaching and is easy to act under the devil’s allurement.

            When king Ahab heard Elijah’s declaration of punishments, “he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son."”

            Similar to king David’s case, God showed his mercy to king Ahab because he showed his repentance. God shall not execute his punishments when he is still alive; but He will do it on his descendants. We also learn a lesson that sin is not only affected an individual alone, but also on his family and nation.

2/ Gospel: You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

2.1/ The ancient versus Jesus’ law: Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

            (1) First, we need to make a distinction between the three verbs “to love” in Greek, they are: erein, philein, agapan. The verb that was used in both vv.43 and 44 is “agapan;” this verb is only used in Christian literature. Christ doesn’t demand us to love our enemies with natural love as we love our beloved or people in our family (erein, philein); he demands us to love our enemies with the divine love (agapan). If he asked us to do so, he demanded us to love against our nature. The difference between the natural love and the divine love is that: when we naturally love, we use the heart; but when we love enemies, we must use our will. It is an agreement between our intellect and will.

            (2) Secondly, we can only love our enemies if we are permeated with Christ’s teaching and love. According to St. John, this love originates from God and is given to us from Christ. Jesus demands his disciples to remain in this love by keeping his commandments before he demands them “to love others as I have love you.”

            (3) Lastly, we must live according to Christ’s teaching. To be able to love our enemies, we must pray for them. If we can pray for them, God shall help us to completely forgive for our enemies. On the cross, Jesus prayed: “Father! forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). St. Stephen, our first martyr, imitated Christ by praying before his death: “Lord! do not hold this sin against them” (Act 7:56). Many saints imitated Christ to forgive those who persecuted them; their lives prove that Christ’s demand doesn’t exceed human capacity.

2.2/ The reasons why we should love our enemies: Jesus gave us four reasons:

            (1) To become God’s children: “A new born bird shall have a similar trait as his mother; if it is not in face, it shall be in wings.” What makes us to look similar to God the most is love. Jesus said of God’s love as follows: “for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” To look like God, we must love our enemy.

            (2) Jesus’ disciple must be different with others: Jesus asks his disciples: “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?”

            (3) A Christian must be different with a Gentile: “And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? ''

            (4) To be perfect: " So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. '' To be perfect is God’s purpose when He created human beings, as Genesis wrote: “God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27).

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We are God’s children. We have a duty to live according to standards of the heavenly kingdom, not according to worldly standards. One of the standard that makes us like God is to love our enemies.

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