Fr. Joseph K. Horn
23 June 1996
St Barbara’s Parish
Santa Ana, CA
Somebody here today is seeking revenge. I don’t know who, I don’t know why, but I know that somebody here today is angry at somebody else and is planning on getting even. I know this because in 15 years of preaching I’ve never had happen to me what happened yesterday. As I tried to write a sermon about a happy topic, the subject kept changing back to revenge. I have no beef against anybody, so the only thing I can figure is that the Holy Spirit knows that somebody out there today needs to hear this, and is using me to help them hear it. This is not a pleasant experience for me, so please make it worth it by listening closely.
In a nutshell, we should never seek revenge for anything, not because vengeance is evil, but because our God is a God who demands justice and vengeance is his. If you really, really want to get even with somebody who did evil to you, then in your heart commit the judgement of their soul to Almighty God, who is able not only to kill their body but who is able to destroy both their body and their soul in hell (words of Jesus, today’s gospel).
Jeremiah: O Lord of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked! (1st reading)
Leviticus 19:18 - Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I am the Lord.
Deuteronomy 32:35 - To me belongs vengeance... I will render vengeance to mine enemies.
Judges 11:36 - The Lord has taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies.
2 Samuel 22:48 - It is God that avenges me and saves me from my enemies. (ditto, Psalm 18:47)
Psalm 94:1 - O Lord, to whom vengeance belongs, O God, to whom vengeance belongs, show thyself... The Lord is my defense; my God is the rock of my refuge.
Isa 1:24 - Thus says the Lord of hosts, the mighty one of Israel, I will avenge me of my enemies.
Isa 34:8 - It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance.
Isa 35:4 - Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance; he will come and save you.
Isa 47:3 - I (the Lord) will take vengeance.
Old Testament prophecies about the coming Savior:
Isa 61:1 - The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.
Jer 11:19 - I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter; they said, Let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered. But you, Lord of hosts, judge righteously; let me see your vengeance on them. Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will punish them; their young men shall die by the sword; their daughters shall die by famine.
Jer 46:10 - This is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, his sword shall devour his enemies, it will be drenched with their blood.
Jer 51:36 - Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee.
Mic 5:15 - I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have never heard.
Nahum 1:2 - The Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his enemies... The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knows them who trust in him. But with an overwhelming flood he will make an utter end of the place of his enemies.
Luke 21:22 - These are the days of [God’s] vengeance.
Rom 12:17 - Do not repay evil with evil... Do not avenge yourselves, but rather control your anger, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. So if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him drink, for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Heb 10:30 - We know him that said, Vengeance belongs to me, and I will repay, says the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:6 - Be warned: no man should defraud his brother in any matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such.
2 Thessalonians 1:6 - God is just: he will pay back trouble to those who trouble you... He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Exodus 34:6-7 - The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.
And who knows; leaving it in God’s hands just may work a miracle. When St. Stephen, the first martyr, was being stoned to death, Paul stood by, and heard Stephen say, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60) Paul became one of the greatest saints in the Bible. If Stephen’s last words had been a cry for vengeance or a torrent of abuse at Paul, would Paul ever have been converted to Christianity?
So remember: we should never seek revenge for anything, not because vengeance is evil, but because our God is a God who demands justice and vengeance is his.