Daily Reflection – 6/17/19
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.” (Matthew 5: 38-42)
Today’s Gospel passage, once again, is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Once again, we are presented with a radical teaching and one which, in today’s world, seems antithetical to the ways of the world. The news is replete with violence, with people being treated unjustly, with countries determined to regain what was lost, with world “leaders” whose words and actions are mean-spirited, aggressive and dismissive.
Evil for evil, violence for violence, hit for hit, word for word will never change anything. It only escalates the violence and entrenches us deeper in the way things already are. It only reveals who we serve and who guides our thinking and actions.
So, what is a follower of Christ to do? It would certainly be hard to find words more radical than these words. 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. Is it really possible for us to live them as his followers, as Christians? Jesus wants us to resist evil with active nonviolence, stand our ground, speak the truth, insist on our common humanity, disarm our opponent, risk suffering love, trust in God, and work for the conversion of our opponent, so that the one who does evil or supports systemic injustice, changes. The goal is to lead the opponent to a change of heart, to melt his heart, win him over to the truth, stop the violence, and help others discover God’s reign of love and peace.
There is a starting point for each of us. Jesus came to call us into and show us the way of perfection. Most often we can discover our holiness, move towards perfection, and reveal God’s Spirit within in us by looking at the painful, demanding, and burdened places of our lives. They are in all our relationships, the people we live with, in our places of work, the busyness of everyday errands, the victims of injustice, and the stranger on the street. Which course will we pursue? The way of the world or the commandment of love ?
Prayer of The Day
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.
The world tells us there are only two options in the face of violence: fight back with violence or run away and do nothing. But Jesus offers a third alternative, “a third way”: active nonviolence resistance. Jesus doesn’t advocate passive resignation or indifference to evil. Quite the contrary. He teaches and practices active, steadfast resistance to every form of violence and injustice. He just does not use the same means as the oppressor.