1 Kings 18: 41-46
Matthew 5: 20-26
This particular pericopy requires a little background. Ahab the King had entered into profound conflict with Elijah the Prophet. Ahab represented the Baalistic religious cults, the climax of which demonstrated ecstasies of the priests which were self-induced. At this point, Ahab had mellowed his heart after a long drought which plagued the king and his people. In this particular scene, we find the king eating again, the drought ending and a reconciliation between him and the true prophet of God, Elijah. The lesson behind this narrative is that God alone is effective and how valuable it is to cherish the First Commandment: “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods (Baal) before me.” Elijah ranks with Moses and David as the holiest of men in the Old Testament canon.
Students of Ignatian spirituality will recognize this passage as the pivot of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Hugo Rahner, brother of Karl Rahner, reflects upon this passage as the essence of the generous soul who follows in practice the teaching of Jesus regarding the kingdom of God. The tone of Jesus’ teaching is in the negative, but the effect is still the same. It is called the doctrine of the mas or the more. If your sins are turned against a fellow member of the Mystical Body, then it is a denigration of Christ himself. The punishment will be that of blasphemy. In the end you will both be disgraced and condemned to an eternity of suffering. God spare us from that! We must live daily with our wits about us and our sensitivity to the dignity of others.
- Father Jerome Vereb, C.P.