Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 21:1-16; Matthew 5:43-48)
“’Frailty, thy name is woman,’” Prince Hamlet says of his mother, the queen, in Shakespeare’s play. But it is not true. Some women, like Lady Macbeth in another Shakespearean play, are as hard as the seats in the church basement. There is nothing frail either about Queen Jezebel in the first reading. As her husband, the king, pouts over not being able to obtain a parcel of land, she cooks up a treachery that would impress the Godfather. She not only defrauds but murders to steal the land away. Then she triply defies God’s law by arranging false witnesses testify that they heard poor Naboth curse God. Not frailty but pure wickedness characterizes this dame!
Some may see Jezebel as a figure of the archetypal Eve and cast all women in a negative hue. But we must resist the temptation. In Genesis, both Adam and Eve willingly share the forbidden fruit. In contemporary life, men much more typically than women commit heinous crimes. What sin always demonstrates, however, is the human need of redemption. Somehow men as well as women must be freed from the burden of guilt attached to their crimes.
“...all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus...,” declares St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans. Christ has freed Jews and Greeks, men and women, the dark and the light complexioned from the guilt which would hold them in sin like a car stuck in sand. We celebrate this redemption in the Eucharist. Here he frees us from our wanton desire to possess and to dominate like King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.