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THE MERCY OF GOD IS UPON TO ALL OF US

Father Francis's picture
Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 21:1-16 & Mt. 5:38-42

Ahab was an evil king but his wife Jezebel was even worse. Not satisfied with all his possessions as king, he wanted Naboth's vineyard. Fully within his rights, he refused to sell. But Jezebel perpetrated his terrible murder and told her husband that he could now take the vineyard without paying for it.

People like Ahab and Jezebel in our modern world arouse our wrath. When we hear about the terrible deeds being done to innocent people around the world, we sometimes wish that God would follow the old way of an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. Tomorrow’s reading will show us how God relented in the punishment due to Ahab because he repented. We find it difficult to practise that kind of mercy, but Jesus came to reveal that God does not will the death of the sinner, He wants him to repent and be saved.

God is so different from us. He sees the whole picture in a unique light. And He views human activity as a loving Father who is eager to have all His children return to Him to beg forgiveness, no matter what they have done. It is not that God fails to give justice, it is that His sense of justice is entirely different from ours.

Rather than be upset with God that evil people on occasion are, quite literally, getting away with murder, we must learn to leave the matter of judgement and punishment in His hands. Our first inclination may be to call down His wrath, but instead we should pray that those who do evil will repent and return to the Lord. We all have need of His mercy.

Jesus does something quite remarkable and unheard of by making clear that there is no room for retaliation. We must not only avoid returning evil for evil but we must seek the good of those who wish us ill. Do we accept insults, as Jesus did, with no resentment or malice? When we are compelled by others to do more than we think we should, do we insist on our rights or respond with grace and cheerfulness?

What makes a disciple of Jesus Christ different from everyone else? It is treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. Only the Cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge and resentment, and give us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal, save and build relationships. The Lord Jesus suffered insult, abuse, injustice and death on a cross for our sake. He did not retaliate but forgave His enemies. Since God has been merciful towards us through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ, we in turn are called to be merciful towards our neighbour, even those who cause us grief and harm. Do we know the power and freedom of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

Lord Jesus, teach us to be like You, to love those who hate us, to pray for those who ill-treat us, that they and we may truly be the children of Your Father.

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