The first reading tells us a story about king Ahab. He had wanted to acquire the neighboring land of a man named Naboth, but that land had been part of Naboth’s family for a thousand years, and he would not part with it.
Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, finding her husband dejected, and feeling that the desire of the nobility should take preference over the needs of lesser people, took action. Under the seal of king Ahab, her husband, she commanded the elders to assemble a court. The letter told the elders to obtain the service of two scoundrels to bring a false charge of Blasphemy against Naboth. It concluded by ordering the elders to stone Naboth to death for the supposed crime Blasphemy.
Now, the thing to know about this story is that it is not just a story. It is part of the Bible’s manual for right living. It is telling you not to want more than you need. It is telling you that God’s privileged people are not the wealthy, the clergy, and the nobility. No! Blow the trumpets! Clear the path! God’s privileged people, the folks working for minimum wages, are coming this way!
My friend Katie told me about the Tolstoy story “How Much Land Does a Man Need.” The king told a man he could possess all the land he could stake off before returning at sunset. The man gleefully staked off hundreds of acres; but then, wanting just an acre more, he collapsed and died. When the onlookers asked the king what was to become of all the acres the man had staked off, the king said, “Just dig him an eight by four foot hole here. That’s all the land a man needs.”