June 14, 2022
by John Shea, S.J.
Creighton University's Biology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 366

1 Kings 21:17-29
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 11 and 16
Matthew 5:43-48

Praying Ordinary Time

Prayers for Fathers and Husbands

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering Corporal Works of Mercy

I write this reflection two weeks after the racially motivated shooting in Buffalo, NY, just over a week after the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, and a few days after at least 12 mass shootings over Memorial Day weekend. Today’s readings challenge me in the light of these tragic events. I want to cast each shooter as the “enemy,” as a “monster,” and as being less than human. I do not want to see them as God sees them.

In our first reading, Ahab stole Naboth’s vineyard after his wife, Jezebel, had Naboth stoned to death through deceit and lies. Such treachery screams for justice. So, part of me cheers when Elijah confronts Ahab and tells him that “in the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.” A violent image, but surely the punishment fits the crime. Ahab, however, repents, fasts, and wears a sackcloth. In response, God shows mercy. Part of me feels disappointed that Ahab did not get his just deserts.

Jesus challenges us to love one another, including our enemies, as he has loved us. And we know that Jesus loved us to his death. Jesus also commands us to pray for those who persecute you. Can I pray for all those individuals responsible for the over 200 mass shootings in the United States this year? Can I see them as God sees them: as being worthy of God’s mercy and love? I know I need God’s grace to love an enemy responsible for so much violence, death, and tragedy. Perhaps any person who challenges me, who shows me my limitations, who forces me to turn to God for help and grace, is not an enemy, but a friend.

I pray for all those who mourn the loss of loved ones through senseless violence. I also pray for the repentance of those who have perpetrated such acts of violence.

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