YEAR B: HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF THE ELEVENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: AN EYE FOR AN EYE, A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 1 Kings 21:15.
This week, we continue our journey through the Gospel of Matthew and precisely through the Great Sermon on the Mount. This sermon contains some of the toughest, yet, saving truths ever spoken. They are tough in the sense that not many people would readily subscribe to these teachings yet the truths contained in them are the solutions to all the problems mankind faces today.
From the need to avoid anger to avoiding lust, to truthfulness down to the need to avoid retaliation which we see in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus seems determined to demand such high standards of living from us. Jesus seems to pick on some of the learned culture mankind has practiced from creation; a culture which has virtually become ingrained in our collective psyche.
We consider it natural and normal to hit back when we are hit, to return a slap when we get one, to throw back a word of insult when we are insulted, yet Jesus is teaching us today to do the very opposite. In all honesty, it is easy to preach what Jesus demands, but it is not so easy to practice it. At times, we unconsciously take an eye for an eye before we realize what we have done. The strongest instinct in any living creature is survival; we would do everything to fight back, to defend our lives from being taken away. So how can we obey these words of Jesus? How do we restrain ourselves from resisting one who is evil?
I think rather than ask ‘how’, we should be asking ‘why.’ Why must we turn the other cheek to the one who slaps us? Why must we give our cloak to the one who forcefully takes our coat? Why do we have to give our hard-earned money (possessions or goods) to those who beg from us? Why is Jesus demanding all these from us? The answer is: THERE IS JUST NO OTHER WAY.
If we all take an eye for an eye, if we all fight back those who hurt us, the human species will soon disappear. And truly, at the heart of all the wars and terrorist activities going on in the world today is the refusal of mankind to abide by these teachings of Jesus. We continue to fight because we cannot forgive. We acquire new enemies every day, some we inherit and some we pass on to our children, the fight never ends.
Again, if we cannot be generous to others, greed takes over us. We simply want to grab, grab and grab. Our possessions become our god, we no longer care for anyone else and we are prepared to kill to take what we desire. Just imagine what Naboth suffered in our first reading today. See how Jezebel connived to put him to death simply for refusing to sell his land to King Ahab who so much desired the land that he became sick. It wasn’t the case that Ahab was a poor man, he was the king, he was the richest man in the whole nation of Israel but due to his insatiable greed, he couldn’t take his eyes off the property of poor Naboth.
Greed is a very serious disease. Our inability to find satisfaction in what we have can drive us to materialism, the more we get, the more we wish we had more. It can drive us to work and work and work; we grow old very quickly and never even get the chance to enjoy the wealth we have gathered. Greed can drive us to acquire certificates and degrees to prove that we are better than others and to control people. Greed can drive us to kill (directly and indirectly). Yes, just like King Ahab killed Naboth, we kill people every day just to attain our ambitions. We are always at any point in time, victims or monsters of greed.
The cure for greed is charity. The only way to avoid materialism is to give and to give and give again. Even when we think people are lazy and do not deserve it, we must keep giving not for their sake but for our sake; to remind ourselves that these things are nothing; that our lives do not depend on them; that we brought nothing to this world and we shall all go back with nothing.
Dear friends, now that you know the “why”, I believe the “how” is no longer a problem.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the Grace to live above my natural instincts, to forgive, to let go and to give. Amen.
*Happy new week. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of the 11th week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1st Kings 21:1-16, Psalm 5:2-7, Matthew 5:36-42).