Matthew 5: 38-42
Jesus said to his disciples: "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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you present a message that
is not easy for my fallen nature to accept. However,
I believe in your words, and I trust in you
because you alone have the words of eternal life. As
I begin this moment of prayer, I turn to you
as one in need. I want only to please you
in all I do.
Petition: Lord, help
me to embrace your call to turn the other cheek.
1. The Leitmotif: Can we discover a
unifying thread in this week’s Gospel readings? One that stands
out is the radical newness of Christ’s Kingdom. It is
new in its fundamental principle: a charity that must extend
to loving one’s very enemies (Monday and Tuesday). It is
new in the intentions which must motivate all our actions
(Wednesday). It is new in the way we are to
pray to our Father in heaven (Thursday). And, finally, it
is new in the radical demands it places upon us
as followers of Christ: We must make this Kingdom our
only treasure (Friday) and seek it above everything else in
life (Saturday). What a privilege to be called to the
mission of helping to establish such a Kingdom! What a
joy, what an honor, what a glory to be the
subjects of such a King! Do people encounter a “newness”,
a freshness, in my approach to life? Is it rooted
in Christ’s new teaching?
2. A New
Legislator: We find ourselves at the heart of Christ’s discourse
in his Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord attributes to
himself an authority that must have startled and even shocked
his Jewish listeners. He claims the power to alter what
has been proclaimed in the very Law of Moses and
the prophets — the absolute source of authority for the
Jewish faith. Remember that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments,
and God put his word in the mouths of the
prophets. So when Jesus says, “You have heard it said….
But I say to you...,” only two alternatives are possible:
Either Christ is a madman, or he is truly the
Son of God, the one who has come “not to
abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.”
I may agree that he is truly the Son of
God, but do I embrace all of his teachings?
3. Turning the Other Cheek: It would certainly
be hard to find words more radical than these. Who
would dare to speak them, if not the Son of
God himself? He would live them out fully in his
own life, allowing himself to be nailed to the cross
by evil men. But is it really possible for us
to live them as his followers, as Christians? Do we
really turn the other cheek when someone strikes us? If
people demand something of us unjustly, do we give them
even more than they ask? What could be the purpose
of these commands from Christ, which seem to leave us
vulnerable and defenseless? In the end, it is only such
heroic charity that will be able to win over evil
men to the cause of the Gospel. And that is
precisely what Christ, our Savior, longs for. “God … desires
all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I long to have a heart
that is more like yours. Warm my selfish heart so
that I will lovingly turn the other cheek as you
ask of me. Help me to grow in zeal for
all men to be saved and to come to know
you in their lives.
Resolution: I will
do an act of kindness for someone with whom it
is difficult for me to get along.