In today’s First Reading King Ahab’s desire to acquire some adjacent property to his palace seems innocuous enough, but for an Israelite land is birthright: a family’s property represents a portion of the Promised Land given by the Lord, and giving something up like that is not something to be done lightly. Ahab is thinking of expansion and landscaping, Naboth is thinking of birthright and his family’s inheritance. Ahab doesn’t understand and starts to pout instead of reflecting on how superficial, jaded, and selfish his offer was.
What follows through the machinations of his wife Jezebel shows an eclipse of justice in Samaria: Jezebel finds officials and personnel to falsely accuse and execute Naboth without outcries by anyone. Naboth, for defending his birthright, forfeits his life, and the rights to the land remit back to the king. The king himself should represent justice in his kingdom, but Ahab goes along with his wife’s plan without any qualms. Now the Lord must take justice into his own hands because the King, his anointed, does not. We’ll soon see the consequences of Ahab’s decision.
Let’s draw the lesson from this sad story of the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Readings: 1 Kings 21:1–16; Psalm 5:2–3b, 4b–7; Matthew 5:38–42. See also 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday.