Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the story of the wicked king of Israel, Ahab who desired the vineyard of Naboth to become his own, and when Naboth refused the king bluntly on the consideration that the land belonged to him and to his ancestors, king Ahab became angry and with the complicit help of his wife, Jezebel, Ahab managed to gain the vineyard by the means of false accusation and murder of Naboth.
If we look at this passage from the Book of Kings, we may find it difficult to reconcile with what we heard in the Gospel today. In the first reading, God spoke to king Ahab through His prophet Elijah regarding the wickedness of his actions in causing the death of Naboth for his own gain, unlawfully gaining the vineyard through trickery and lies. And God said that what happened to Naboth would also happen to Ahab.
It means that whatever evil things Ahab had done would also befall him as the consequence for his sins. But in the Gospel we heard about Jesus our Lord who told His disciples that they should not seek vengeance or to get retribution from those who have mistreated them or hurt them. It seems that the two passages contradict each other if we read them at the face value, but in reality, they actually complement each other.
How is this so? It is because both of them speak of the same thing. All of us human beings have been created with love and out of love by our God, and we were all intended for good things. And thus the very important rule that all of us have to understand is that if we want others to treat us kindly and nicely, then we ourselves must start to treat others in the same manner too.
If we treat others badly, then it will bring about pain and anger in their hearts and minds, and as a result, they too will want to treat us in the same manner too, seeking vengeance against us. And when vengeance has been accomplished, the cycle is not over but in fact continues on, as when we become the object of that vengeance and suffered because of it, then we ourselves will want to enact our own revenge. The end result is a never-ending cycle of revenge and vengeance that bring about nothing but suffering, more suffering, pain and evil.
On the other hand, if we love one another, and even love and forgive those who have hurt us or hated us, then in fact we are breaking that endless cycle of hatred and suffering, by opening up the floodgates of God’s love to fill our hearts, and the hearts of those who have despised us and hated us, so that we stop that continuation of hatred and all the evil emotions, and instead spread and spawn the seeds of love.
And when we love even our enemies and those who have loathed us and persecuted us, what we hope is that we may bring their hearts to know the love which God has given to them through us, and that they may repent their ways and turn back to those evil deeds and into the light of God. And thus, we may bring one another into the love of God, and receive His grace and blessings.
And how about what we heard with regards to king Ahab and Naboth? Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a crucial difference between that case and what our Lord is asking us to do. What king Ahab had done was definitely very wicked, and it was not just on that occasion, but also on numerous other occasions, where Ahab had disobeyed the Lord and brought the whole people of Israel into sin.
And unlike us all who have in our tendency not to love our enemies and those who hate us, God loves everyone equally, as He has created all of us without discrimination, whether they eventually became good or evil based on their own conscious choices. And He has loved us all even though many of us if not most or all of us, have disobeyed Him and rejected His love from time to time.
And God offered Ahab and the Israelites the same love, and yet they rejected it. And thus, in the end, those who refuse to love, and refuse the love which God had generously presented to us, and choose instead to act on our own whim and desires, then we have to part in God’s love and inheritance, and our fate will be like that of king Ahab, whom God had rejected and cast out from His presence. Remember brethren, that God loves us, but He hates our sins and wickedness.
Thus, let us today heed the example of a great saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Anthony of Padua, the renowned Franciscan friar and preacher was a very famous saint whose works in Italy and in many places have brought numerous if not countless souls back from the periphery of death and darkness and back into the light and the love of God.
St. Anthony of Padua showed great devotion to the Lord, and then correspondingly a great commitment for the people of God, to whom he had devoted himself fully, caring for the weak, the ostracised and the downtrodden, teaching to them the word and the truth of God, and revealing God’s love to them through his own loving actions.
He inflamed the hearts of many people with his preaching, and he inspired many of them to rediscover their faith and to commit themselves anew to God. And he often led by example, showing many people how they should act as those who believe in the Lord our God. It is very important for us all to follow his examples, and also have love in our own actions and deeds.
Let us all renew our faith for the Lord, and be loving and be merciful in all the things we say and do. May God strengthen the love within our hearts, and allow us to be filled with His gracious love and mercy, that we will always endeavour for the good and for the salvation of all mankind, each and every one of us. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.