Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48)
A couple’s only son was brutally murdered. When the assassins were apprehended, the couple felt hatred towards them. Throughout the trial, they wanted to see the men executed. Afterwards, the father of the victim experienced a change of heart. Concern replaced the rage he had felt. He began to pray for his son’s murderers. His feelings about the state execution, to which one of the culprits was sentenced, varied. On one hand he desired strict justice -- a “life for a life.” On the other he wanted to love the murderer. The first reading today indicates what people are to do in such a tragic situation.
King Ahab is about as despicable a character as any in literature. He is unfaithful, covetous, murderous, petulant, hen pecked, etc. He not only has conspired in the murder of the poor, innocent Naboth, but he has also led God’s whole people astray. Yet God does not do him in. Rather the Lord forgives Ahab when the king shows remorse for his crimes. God will display the same compassion on the world by sending His Son to relieve it of the burden of sin.
We are wise not to underestimate the difficulty or the need of forgiveness. It is one thing to forgive an offender who has caused us a night’s sleep and another to let go of the anger against one responsible for the death of a loved one. But as Saint Pope John Paul II taught, only through such forgiveness can peoples come to live in peace.