Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard from the readings of the Scripture in which we are reminded of the important obligation for all of us as Christians to be filled with virtue and love, Christian love following what the Lord Himself had shown us and taught us, that is to be genuine in our love, first of all towards God and then our love towards our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.
In our first reading today, we heard about the story of the king of Israel, Ahab and his interaction with the vineyard owner Naboth, whose land was coveted by the king who wanted to get the land for his own use and purpose. But when the king told Naboth to sell his land to him, Naboth refused to do so, saying that the land belonged to him and had been passed down to him as inheritance from his ancestors. As someone who was likely to be righteous and even God-fearing and obedient to the Law, Naboth obeyed the Law of God which stated that the inheritance of the land is sacred.
But the king became angry because he could not get what he had wanted, and with the instigation of his wife, Jezebel, a pagan who was even worse and more wicked than king Ahab was, ended up with Naboth being implicated and wrongly accused of blasphemy against God, with false witnesses and efforts put in place to condemn him to death with the blatant and deliberate support from the king and the queen. It was truly a very wicked, evil and selfish action, a great sin before God and man alike.
Queen Jezebel encouraged her husband to misuse his power and authority, to be a tyrant who did not care about the well-being of his people or about righteousness and justice. Instead of doing what he had been entrusted to do, the king misled his people into sin and showed it himself by his wicked and selfish attitude, his unlawful and terrible seizure of the vineyard of Naboth among many other irresponsible and sinful attitudes, which thus brought about divine judgment.
In our Gospel reading today then we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples on the matter of the Law, in which it was once said that those who committed sins and mistakes must pay according to what they have committed, that in literal words, if they caused someone to lose an eye, then they too had to lose an eye as a result, a hand for a hand, and ultimately, a life lost is to be repaid with the life of the one who had caused such a loss of life. This was the law of reciprocity as interpreted and followed by the Jews at the time of the Lord.
But the Lord Jesus then showed the true meaning and intention of the Lord, in which the old interpretation of the Law was no longer to be valid. The old interpretation of the Law was such that in order to discipline and make sure that the people of God obeyed the Law and followed the path of virtue and righteousness, a harsh interpretation of the Law was followed. Yet, this ended up in them taking the interpretation to the extreme and losing sight on the real meaning and purpose of the Law.
The Lord wants us all as Christians to know that the Law is all about love, the love first and foremost, that we must have and show towards the Lord, our God and Master, and then the same love which we also have to show towards our fellow brethren. If we have no love in us, no matter how many great things we do, and how mighty or great we are, then we will have no real life within us. God calls on us all as Christians to show love in our every actions and deeds, in our every interactions.
Through what He has told His disciples, we heard how He said that if someone were to strike them on one side, offer the other side to be struck, and then if someone were to tell them to go forth one mile, then, go forth for even one mile further. In all of these, we can see how the Lord called us all to a new life and existence, one that is filled not with the selfishness of man, contrary to what the examples of king Ahab, his wickedness and evil had shown us. Instead, we are called to focus our attention on God and His love.
God ought to be the centre of our lives and we ought to follow His own examples, in how He has loved us so much that He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, by suffering for our sake on the Cross. He has shown us the willingness to give everything out of His love for us, as contrasted with the selfishness and ego shown by king Ahab in his unbridled desire and ambition, leading to him sinning ever further and more against God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on turn away from the way of evil, the path of selfishness and worldly desires. Let us instead entrust ourselves to the Lord’s care and loving providence, and let us all be genuine in living our Christian faith with zeal and dedication from now on. May the Lord be our guide and may He give us the strength to be faithful to Him from now on, and be inspiration for one another, in our virtuous life and actions. Amen.