Greedy Eyes and Greedy Hearts
Homily for Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Preached on June 14, 2010 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: 1 Kings 21:1-16; Psalm 5:2-3b, 4b-7; Matthew 5:38-42
The trouble with Ahab was he was a spoiled brat. He saw what he did not have and he wanted it for his own. This time his eye was on the vineyard next door; he wanted to turn it into his very own vegetable garden. He was ready to offer money for it or even another vineyard in exchange (cf. 1 Kgs. 21:2). But, the owner, Naboth the Jezreelite, would not give it to him, and Ahab, like a typical spoiled brat who had not gotten what he wanted, sulked in his palace and would not eat (cf. 1 Kgs. 21:3-4).
The story could have ended there with an admonition against bratty behavior. But, it happened that Ahab the brat was married to Jezebel the bully. She too wanted what she did not have but, unlike her husband the king, she always made sure that she got whatever it was that she wanted. And so, Jezebel schemed against Naboth, had the Jezreelite stoned to death, and got the vineyard for the king (cf. 1 Kgs. 21:8-15). She went through all that trouble for a vegetable garden!
The trouble with a spoiled brat like Ahab is he has greedy eyes. He wants to have everything that he sees. Yet, what is more terrifying than the greedy eyes of a brat is the greedy heart of a bully. A bully like Jezebel is convinced that she has to have something and she could care less who gets hurt in the process of getting it. It does not matter whether she even needed it in the first place; she just wants to get her own way.
There is no place for such brats and bullies in the Lord’s vineyard. Jesus calls us not to have greedy eyes and greedy hearts, but to be generous beyond expectation: to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile (cf. Mt. 5:39, 41-42). He reminds us that being a Christian is not a matter of getting what we want or getting our own way; it is a matter of giving what we have and following His way. For we do not have a brat for a Savior or a bully for a God; we have a generous God who gave His own Son to be our Savior (cf. Rom. 8:32), a generous Savior who gave His own life for our sake.