Readings for Monday June 15, 2009
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-42
"You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow."
Imagine there you are, listening to Jesus preach on the mountain. Listening to the new moses, telling us how to live out God's commandments. You are there hanging on every word, and just knowing in your heart that what you are hearing is truth; even though it is so radically different than anything you have heard taught before. So there you are, when all of a sudden you hear Jesus say that we should offer no resistance to one who is evil; and if someone strikes us on our right cheek that we are to offer them the other as well? I imagine that the reaction that most of us would have would be "You want me to do what!?!?" Most of us have a lot of trouble understanding this passage, not because it is difficult, but because it is so against what most of us were taught growing up. It is very against what our world teaches as well.
When I was a boy, I was always told that if someone hits me or starts anything that I have every right to go about slugging them back. There were certainly many times that I did get into fights because of this way of thinking. Not only was I taught this, but it was reinforced by my peers. If you didn't fight back, your pride and reputation were also at stake. Everyone would think that you were just a wimp, and that you were weak. In our world that is driven by competition, and where power and strength are highly sought after, it is no wonder we are so resistant to this teaching. If we were to see someone be struck on one cheek and then offer another, we would immediately think that they are weak and not strong enough to fight back. I am certainly not just talking in physical terms either, I am also speaking in intellectual, emotional, and spiritual terms as well. We are very reactive people, and because of this when someone seeks to do us harm, our first reaction is usually not to let them get away with it but to react; either physically or verbally. When we do react are we not also seeking to inflict pain and damage as well in response?
Jesus, always mindful of our nature, once again calls us to something higher. He shows us that true strength and true power are not found in those who have the best "left hooks," or those who can make the wittiest comebacks. True power and strength is found in those who follow the Lord, in those who can control their actions and emotions and seek to love instead of hurt. I know that it takes far more strength to choose to love someone who hurts you than it does to react to them. Choosing to love someone is by far such a much greater act of justice. It is by far a higher calling, and a way of acting with the mind of Christ. We must continue to put on the mind of Christ, to act as He did and to love instead of hate. This world teaches us that when we are put down, that we need to seek revenge and put down that person back. But Christ tells us rather to love, and to offer our other cheek. To be strong, to go above what is called of us and to truly be the lights in this world.
May we all seek to act with the heart and mind of Christ, rather than the heart and mind of men.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we are so weak, yet your strength is unlimited. Lord, help us to be strong when faced with adversity. Help us to love without limits as you do. Lord, your was are perfect, while our ways are so flawed; help us to be the people that we are all called to be. We thank you for our lives, and for your great sacrifice for us. Help us to not waste our time here on earth but to let your light shine through us. We thank you for all that we are and all that we have. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.