We mirror the image of God when we are exceptional in our compassionate lifestyle
By REV. FR. SAMUEL FREDERICK
1 Kgs 21:17-29, Mt. 5:43-48. Today's first reading reports the divine punishment for Jezebel, for contriving the murder of an innocent man. Elijah declared: “The Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’” On the other hand, king Ahab wins a reprieve of his sentence, for acknowledging his guilt in the matter and humbly asking God for pardon. In marked contrast to the abuse of power by Ahab and Jezebel, today's Gospel calls on us to seek the spirit of forgiveness. We need to swallow our pride and refrain from judging others. Even if a reprobate as king Ahab came to repent, it shows how hearts can change. The clearest example of loving enemies and praying for persecutors is Jesus. The passion narratives presents Jesus as praying for His executioners (Cf. Lk. 22:34). Our natural, human tendency is to be generous to people in whom we have personal feelings of warmth and affection. This is natural, but not exceptional. Jesus urges us to be exceptional and raise the standard higher beyond the conventional practice.
The old law allowed for hatred of our enemies. Jesus requires that we love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us and reach out to those who have no way of repaying us because God is perfect, compassionate, merciful and treats us as divine children, even though we are sinful. An eye for an eye and caring for only one’s own people were accepted principles in the Old Testament system but this justice system does not heal according to the Gospel value; it only multiplies the injury and alienates the other. As Mahatma Gandhi observed: “An eye for an eye makes the world go blind.” It does not redeem; it does not enhance. It only makes us reactive, lowering us to the level of the offender, making us mirror images of each other. What Jesus offers us is a way out of this cycle of violence: that transcend the levels of the offender, widen the circle of inclusion, raising ourselves unto the image of the Father who sends light and rain to the good and the bad without discrimination. As we the Father, we also invite offenders to imitate us as well. This lifestyle option taught by Jesus could only be possible with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives among us and within us. No matter how justified our anger at a wrong done to us, we can ask God to forgive the sinner.
May the compassion, love and mercy of God be manifested in the way we treat others, especially those who hurts us! Amen!! Good morning and have a great day!!!