Hand Him Your Cloak
Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it is close by, next to my house. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or, if you prefer, I will give you its value in money.” Naboth answered him, “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral heritage.” 2 Kings 21:1-3
“If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow." Matthew 5:40-42
|Artwork by Fr. McNichols|
'O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all the spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
'O St Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.'" Amen
With much love and gratitude to all our Fathers." Happy Fathers' Day! Jesuit Fr. Bill McNichols - June 2018
Today’s readings provide us two examples of how faith and the law intersect in daily life. These readings are the outgrowth of the positive image provided in Sunday’s Gospel when Jesus compares our faith to the mustard seed. If our faith is like that tiny seed, then our faith can grow large and put forth large branches, having an effect on those who we may not even know we have touched.
That life-affirming image of positive growth recognizes in the weekly readings that we might encounter obstacles – including bad people acting out of bad faith.
The story in today’s First Reading tells how Jezebel manipulates important structures of Israelite social order, law, and religious observance to eliminate a faithful Israelite landowner who frustrates Ahab’s will.
Naboth is unwilling to sell or exchange his vineyard. According to the Israelite system of land tenure and distribution,the land was held in common within a family or clan. The ancestral naḥalah was not private property, to be sold at will like we would sell our house today and move to another city for a job or to retire.
Turn to the Gospel reading and we encounter the story of Jesus turning the law upside down.
The Old Testament commandment cited (“an eye for an eye”) was straight out of Hammurabi’s Code. It was meant to moderate vengeance; the punishment should not exceed the injury done. Even today’s modern “just war” theory in Catholic doctrine underscores the need for proportionality. Jesus forbids even this proportionate retaliation. Of the five examples that follow, only the first deals directly with retaliation for evil; the others speak of liberality.
Whether we encounter people acting within their rights (like the Roman soldiers forcing the Jews into service) or others (like Jezebel) manipulating the law for their selfish purposes, Jesus tells us to act with humility and compassion and mercy. Jesus tells us to act just as our Father would act.
This mercy connects our Sunday/Father’s Day readings with the theme that continues through the week. It also underscores the importance of those bracelets which became popular when our daughters were in middle and high school: WWJD?
Jesus turned the law upside down.
- Jesus would certainly NOT stone someone to death for obeying ancient laws.
- Jesus would NOT put false witnesses against someone.
- Jesus would NOT seize the land taken with such illegal, immoral motives.
Much has been and continues to be written about the practices being imposed on asylum seekers approaching the Southern border with Mexico. Arresting all the parents – including those legally seeking protection – NOT those seeking to enter the US illegally -- and putting the children into detention facilities is just wrong. Here is how New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan put it: If they want to take a baby from the arms of his mother and separate the two, that is wrong...Not good. Not American. Not human. Not biblical."
Contact your legislators and tell them to urge the leaders who are imposing this practice to put it to an end.
Where would we be today if the Egyptian authorities jailed Mary and Joseph and put Jesus into a tent city somewhere in the Gaza Strip or the Sinai Peninsula?
The inhumane and cruel policies imposed against legal migrants fleeing horrors at home must end.
May we all be open to seeing God is Love in ourselves. May we be strong enough to receive it from others, compassionate enough to give it to others, and courageous enough to demand it from others. @TonyReali
- Immigrant families should not be separated so they can be detained.
- Children should never be detained.
- The use of military bases to hold immigrant children and families is a grave violation of human rights that transgresses core American values