Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, creator of a good and beautiful world,
may we joyfully set out on this day in your name,
and fill it with acts of love for you and our brethren.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
The First Reading: 1 Kings 21:17 – 29
Then 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.’
The Gospel: Matthew 5:43 – 48
Jesus said, ‘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.’
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the theme that we covered in Yesterday’s Gospel. Here Jesus is telling us about loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute you, as we said Yesterday this is a way to measure our commitment as a Christian to living out a Christlike love. But having said all that, it is often very hard to do and runs against the grain of Human Nature.
Although we must try everyday to put this into practice. I like how St. Francis of Assisi puts it in Expositio in Pater Noster:
“And forgive us our trespasses, by Thy ineffable mercy in virtue of the Passion of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the merits and intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary and of all Thy elect.
As we forgive their that trespass against us, and what we do not fully forgive, do Thou, O Lord, make us fully forgive, that for Thy sake we may truly love our enemies and devoutly intercede for them with Thee; that we may render no evil for evil, but in Thee may strive to do good to all.”
We definately have some food for thought there, until Tomorrow.