1 Kings 21:17-29
On first reading, our two scriptures passages seem to present two totally contradictory messages. In the Gospel from Matthew, Jesus calls us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors, to love those who hate us. IN this way, we can be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. In our reading from the Book of Kings, the Lord God, through Elijah, tells the vicious King of Israel, Arab, and his equally vicious wife, Jezebel, that he will mercilessly slaughter every living person of Arab’s family and ensure dogs eat Jezebel in the open fields. Even when Arab repents, in total shock, God’s ‘mercy’ is only to spare Ahab himself, but to continue the destruction of Ahab’s innocent children.
On first reading, these seem contradictory messages. And a second reading merely confirms that they are. So, no need try to reconcile the two.
To be perfect as God our Heavenly Father is perfect? Is that possible? Does it mean magically switching off anger, bitterness, hatred, and desire for revenge? Or does it mean wanting to be bigger than those who hate and hurt; to be a little better than those who want to tear down, undermine and criticise; to be more generous and selfless that those who are totally selfish and self-focused? Does it mean trying, even if we don’t always succeed. Does it mean wishing we could be better, even if we aren’t, being regretful when we return spite for spite, angry words for angry words, hurt for hurt.
Perhaps our Heavenly Father’s perfection means the constant, unending work in God’s hurt to overcome his own disappointment, sense of hurt, perhaps anger at the folly, futility harm and destruction we do to his world; God’s willingness to love again, create again and try again.
So perhaps the message for today is that God is perfect, because God keeps trying, and so must we.
Fr.Kevin Tuituu CP is the community member at St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville.