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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (1Kgs 21:17-29): After the death of Naboth the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite: «Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be in the vineyard of Naboth, of which he has come to take possession. This is what you shall tell him, ‘The Lord says: After murdering, do you also take possession? For this, the Lord says: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too’». Ahab said to Elijah, «Have you found me out, my enemy?». «Yes», he answered. «Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the Lord's sight, I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab's line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin». (Against Jezebel, too, the Lord declared, «The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel»). «When one of Ahab's line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him».

Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He became completely abominable by following idols, just as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the children of Israel. When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, «Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son».
Responsorial Psalm: 50
R/. Be merciful, o Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, o God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: «Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight».

Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt. Free me from blood guilt, o God, my saving God; then my tongue shall revel in your justice.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 13:34): Alleluia. I give you a new commandment; love one another as I have loved you. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 5:43-48): Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

“Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”

Fr. Iñaki BALLBÉ i Turu (Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Christ invites us to love. To love without measure, which is the measure of true Love. God is Love, “for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:45). And man, God's spark, has to keep on struggling every day to resemble him, so “that you may be children of your heavenly Father”. Where can we find Christ's face? On others, on our nearest fellow men. It is easy to feel sorry for the starving children in the poorest countries when we watch them on TV, or for all those refugees fleeing from their countries at war. But, what about those at home? What about our co-workers? And what about that distant relative living alone and whom we could pay a visit to, to keep him company? How do we treat others? How do we love them? What specific deeds of service have we towards them, every day?

It is certainly very easy to love those who love you. But our Lord is urging us to go a step further, “if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?” (Mt 5:46). To love our enemies! To love those we know —for sure— will never return our affection, or our smiles, or that favor. Simply because they ignore us. A Christian, all Christians, should not love in a “self-interested” way; it is not enough to give a piece of bread or our alms to a homeless person on the street. We have to give ourselves to the others. When dying on the Cross, Christ forgave those who crucified him. No reproach, no complaint, not even an angry face...

Love without expecting anything in return. When it comes to loving we don’t calculate. Perfection is to love with no measure. And we hold perfection in our hands amidst the world, in our daily chores. By doing what we should in every instance, not what we would like to do. God's Mother, at the wedding of Cana in Galilee, realizes the guests have no more wine and asks the Lord to do the miracle. Let us beg Him today the miracle of finding out the needs of our own neighbors.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Love is sufficient for itself. Love needs no cause beyond itself, nor does it demand fruit. It is its own purpose. I love because I love.” (Saint Bernard)

  • “Why does Jesus ask us to love precisely our enemies, that is, a love which exceeds human capacities? Because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness: ‘Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 5:48).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 2013)