Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded that we cannot let the desires in us and greed to bring ruin to ourselves, as the lessons of the past contained in the Scriptures should remind us. Instead, as Christians we have to heed the words that the Lord Himself had told us, that we must not be a people of greed and hatred, of anger and jealousy. Instead, we have to be filled with the same genuine love that God has for each and every one of us, and because of this, we are all called to be righteous, loving and exemplary in all of our actions, words and deeds.
In our first reading today, we heard from the First Book of Kings the account of the encounter between king Ahab of Israel and Naboth, the vineyard owner from whom Ahab wanted to purchase the vineyard from. King Ahab has strongly desired that vineyard, but Naboth refused as that vineyard was on the land that he had inherited from his forefathers. By Law, Naboth was entitled to keep the land of his inheritance, and not even Ahab as king could lawfully force Naboth to sell his land to him. This made Ahab very upset and his wicked wife, Jezebel, plotted and arranged that Naboth was to be falsely accused of blasphemy and of faults that he had not committed.
That was how Ahab managed to unlawfully and illicitly gain ownership of Naboth’s vineyard, and that was a great sin that he committed before God and men alike. That was not what the Lord had told His people to do, and as king, Ahab was expected of an even greater standard and obedience to the ways of the Lord, to His Law and commandments. But Ahab failed it all, and he allowed his wife to mislead and misguide him, and to enforce policies and practices that promoted pagan worship, idolatry, and also the act of tyranny and wickedness as what Jezebel had done in the name of Ahab in persecuting and then seizing the lands of Naboth.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord telling His disciples that while Jewish traditions and customs demanded that ‘an eye is ought to be repaid with an eye, and a tooth repaid with a tooth’, they should not be following that path any longer, as He has shown them the better path, the path that He expected all Christians to follow, the path of His love. The old customs and practices were done in accordance to the principles of divine justice and retribution according to their understanding of the old laws of Moses, which had been misinterpreted and misunderstood by the people of God.
Hence, the Lord came to reveal the true intention of His Law, and to call on everyone to turn once again back to Him, abandoning their sinful ways, their selfish desires and greed, and instead embracing His path and following what He has been revealing and showing to us by His own actions. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Lord and Saviour, we have seen the love of God manifested in the flesh, coming into our midst and dwelling among us. He did not just tell His disciples to love one another and to show genuine care and concern, doing more than what had been expected of them, and not to retaliate upon being treated badly, but He Himself did as He told His disciples, in His own actions, in what He had done in loving and forgiving even those who had persecuted Him.
For if we recall what took place during the Lord’s Passion, suffering and death, the Lord Jesus endured bitter rejection and harsh treatment from His enemies, abandoned and betrayed, and was condemned to death and accused of a crime that He was innocent of, and even after all that, He still looked lovingly upon His people, even to all those who had rejected and condemned Him, praying for them and asking His heavenly Father not to hold their actions against them. He showed how a true and genuine Christian love is like, a truly selfless and unconditional love, that does not seek one’s own comfort and benefits, but rather, truly caring for the well-being and the good of the other person.
Compare that love and path of life as compared to what king Ahab and his wife, the wicked Jezebel had plotted and done against Naboth. Then we can obviously see what we are expected to do as Christians, in obeying the will of God, and in following His love, His truth and compassionate ways. Each and every one of us have been called to follow the Lord and to walk in His path in the same manner, and today, we also have the examples of St. Anthony of Padua, the renowned saint and Doctor of the Church, whose faith and commitment to God can be great sources of inspiration for all of us Christians to follow in our own lives. All of us should look upon St. Anthony of Padua, his determination to love his fellow brethren, the poor and the sick, as our examples.
St. Anthony of Padua was a Franciscan friar and priest who was greatly remembered for his eloquent and moving sermons, inspired by the Holy Spirit and by the love that he had for both the Lord and for his fellow brothers and sisters. Many people were touched by his personal sanctity and all the efforts he did in reaching out to those who have been lost to the Lord and His Church, and also for those who were poor, sick and abandoned, ostracised and neglected by the society, and he was remembered for his many works and efforts to bring the people of God back to Him, and to bring the love of God closer to all of His people, wherever he went and ministered to.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. Anthony of Padua had inspired numerous people to follow in his examples, let us all also walk in his path, and remembering what the Lord Himself had done for our sake, in His selfless love and in His desire to be reconciled and reunited with us. Let us all ourselves be the beacons of God’s light, and the bearers of His truth, showing the genuine love of God, His compassion and kindness to all of mankind, to those whom we encounter in life daily, and doing our best to follow the Lord in all of our lives. May the Lord continue to guide us, that we may not walk down the same path that king Ahab had walked, and instead of succumbing to the temptations of our desires, let us all seek to live a better and more Christ-like lives from now on. May God be with us and bless our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.