11th Week, Monday, Jun 15

1 Kings 21:1-16 / Matthew 9:36-42 
Jezebel plots Naboth’s death: Witnesses lied and Naboth was killed.

Two days after the assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life, a West Coast psychic recorded a TV program predicting the attempt. Then she and a TV interviewer aired it, claiming it was made before the event. Similarly, a Washington Post reporter, Janet Cooke, won the Pulitzer prize for a story she claimed was true. Then it was discovered to be purely fictional.
Both of these examples deal with the evil described in today’s reading: the lie. It has plagued the human race since the serpent lied to the first couple in the Garden of Eden.
Do we sometimes “embellish” the truth? Why? “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet
An obsession is the state of being obsessed with someone or something, or an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind. That already tells us that it is not a good thing and that it is not normal and if it is not treated, then it could just spiral on to dire consequences.

In the 1st reading, king Ahab was obviously obsessed with something as well as with someone. He wanted Naboth's vineyard to be his vegetable garden, and he was obsessed with Naboth for rejecting him. He was so obsessed that he became gloomy and refused to eat. And then came along his wicked wife Jezebel who planned a conspiracy against Naboth and to get rid of him.

When Jezebel told king Ahab that Naboth was dead, he was gleefully going down to the vineyard of Naboth to take possession of it.

It was such an evil obsession that king Ahab didn't even bother about the loss of an innocent life. He just wanted the vineyard and he also wanted Naboth to be out of his sight.

Now, if a judge were to pronounce judgement and punishment on king Ahab, and if we were that judge, what punishment would it be for king Ahab?

Would it be an "eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" punishment on king Ahab? And if we were Naboth's close relative, would that kind of punishment be enough for king Ahab?

Or would we want to consider what Jesus taught in the gospel? As we think about all this, let us remember that when a life is concerned, we have to leave the judgement to God. The wrong-doer will have to be accountable to God.

Let us not be obsessed with the evil, but rather let us turn to God who is just. Let us know what God wants of us, and not be obsessed with what we want for ourselves.
Monday June 15

Monday of 11th Week of Ordinary Time


It is the continuous temptation of people to get what we want, if necessary by unjust means and by exploiting others, like Ahab expropriating the vineyard of Naboth.
Jesus tells us not to repay the unjust by revenge. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is not Christian. We must rather suffer injustice and let people take advantage of us, at least when the injustice is done against us. But other parts of the scriptures tell us to defend others if they are wronged, like the poor, and to fight injustice through goodness and forgiveness. That is how we must break the spiral of evil.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
the injustice found in the world upsets us.
Forgive us the wrongs we have committed
and do not allow us to add
to the evil in the world
by exploiting our brothers and sisters
and using them for our own purposes.
Rather teach and help us
to stand up for integrity and truth,
not to take revenge
but out of the goodness of our hearts.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Nothing but malice can explain the vicious tactic of Jezebel to obtain Naboth’s vineyard. It is hard to explain Ahab’s extreme anger over his failure to purchase Naboth’s ancestral property, but there is no doubt about Ahab’s single-mindedness. With his consent, his scheming wife Jezebel arranges for Naboth’s death, with the sole intent of expanding the royal holdings.
Perhaps the only difference between Jezebel’s cunning and cases of modern dishonesty is the open shamelessness of her actions. She does everything she can to possess Naboth’s land. She succeeds in her ploy. Ahab gets the vineyard, and Naboth is killed.
How different is the teaching of today’s Gospel. Every Christian response is marked by charity and forgiveness. In this case, the rights of Naboth would have been recognized, and the king would have looked elsewhere for ways to increase his holdings.
Greed characterizes many human transactions today. People will set upon a course of action and leave no stone unturned in obtaining their objective. Yet nothing is more important in life than personal integrity. All material things, regardless of their worth, are fleeting. What profit have we if we gain the whole world and lose our own soul?

Points to Ponder
Greed and its destructive character
The unjust taking of human life
The value of personal integrity.

– That in our world people may learn not to repay violence with more violence, but as much as possible resist evil in a nonviolent way, we pray:
– That reconciliation may be the mark of Christians when they have suffered from personal enmity and hurt, we pray:
– That we may have the courage to stand up for the injustice done to the poor and those exploited, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father
in these signs of bread and wine
we bring before you our willingness
to be just and fair to every person.
But we ask you even for more.
Give us the dispositions of your Son,
that we may forgive wholeheartedly
those who have wronged us,
and repay evil with kindness.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
God our Father,
you have shown your goodness to us
by giving us your own Son.
With him, we want to be on the side
of the poor and the disinherited.
Do not allow us to remain silent
when people are trampled upon,
but give us the courage and the patience
to make this cold world
a place of justice and respect for people
and warm it with the love
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Break the spiral of evil! Each of us, in her or his own place, has to do away with evil, in oneself, and as much as one can in one’s family, occupation and employment and community. May God give you the strength and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.