Reading 1 (1 KINGS 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 (PSALM 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 11 AND 16)

R. (see 3a) 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.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
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.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
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.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Alleluia (JOHN 13:34)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment;
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel (MATTHEW 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.”
Reflection: In the First Reading (1 Kings 21:17-29), the Prophet Elijah proclaims to King Ahab the punishment of God that his wife Jezebel and him will receive because they have killed Naboth. Afraid of being devoured by dogs, the king fasted and placed a sackcloth as his clothing. As a result, the Lord relents from the inflicting punishment against Ahab and Jezebel, however the king’s son will inherit the consequence. We could see here how the justice of God prevails over the wickedness of these 2 notorious leaders. So we are reminded that despite our influence and high status, we should never forget to humble ourselves and ask God for forgiveness for the times we failed to do what is right and offended him with our sinful acts.
In the Gospel (Matthew 5:43-48), Jesus makes a new interpretation of Leviticus 19:18, which states: “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” This last Christian interpretation in the Sermon of the Mount summarizes the interpretations of the Lord from verse 20 with our relationship with one another. The Evangelist and Apostle Saint Matthew pictures the Lord Jesus as the fulfillment of all psalms and prophecies. This statement is one of the sayings of Jesus that can be hard to accept. Why should we love our enemies even if they did many bad things against us? Why should we pray for them if they continue to live like that? We are called Christians because of our love for one another. If we love those who are closed to us and those who do good deeds, then we should also love those who have hurt. We should pray for them that they may turn away from their evil deeds. Remember when Christ as he hang upon the Cross prayed: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a). Even the first martyr Saint Stephen prayed the same words as he was being stoned to death: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60a). No wonder Christ died for our salvation from sin’s power, and the Saints especially the Martyrs consecrated and offered their lives for the faith in order that they may save the Church from falling into sin. This shows the great love of God for us, even though we have lost his grace because of our sins. Now it is turn to love and forgive others, especially our enemies, and to pray for their conversion. But what if they do the same things over and over again? What if they won’t stop? It is the Lord who will take care of them at their judgements, yet we continue to hope that they may change for the better. So as we journey down this road, let us manifest the Christian love to one another, especially those who have done many wrong things. And may we all strive to live in holiness and faithfulness as God’s children, just as Christ has told us: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

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