You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5: 38-42)
Jesus knew the moral law and its intention better than any jurist or legal expert could imagine. He quoted from the oldest recorded law in the world: If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Exodus 21:23-25). Such a law today seems cruel, but it was meant to limit vengeance as a first step towards mercy.
But Jesus does something quite remarkable and unheard of. He takes the law of mercy and transforms it with grace, forbearance, and loving-kindness. He also makes clear that there is no room for retaliation. We must not only avoid returning evil for evil, but we must seek the good of those who wish us ill.
Therein lies the distinction of Christianity. It is grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace have the power to heal and to save from destruction. That is the transformative part of His message.
Jesus challenges us to be different in order to demonstrate that those who follow Jesus are distinctive from the rest of the world. He is teaching us that the commands to love God and neighbor are intimately related. It is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that reminds us that we share morally in that love. His words in this Gospel passage remind us of how completely we are to give ourselves to others.
When we act in a way that is beyond people’s expectations, when we act in a way that is different, we open the possibility for new things to happen. We open the possibility to live in a new way, in a way that is beyond all the dead-end options that our world continues to choose, in a way that is beyond the circle of violence that is gradually destroying us.
Moving away from hatred and revenge also will eradicate the effects of evil. Because revenge and hatred wind up consuming us more than any deed done against us. It saps every ounce of good will in us. It disfigures our perspective. In a subtle and insidious way, it truly begins to rot away all that we are intended to be.
Living as Christians, living by Christ’s standards and following his example, is not easy, but God doesn’t leave us along with demanding words. He gives us His holy Spirit to help us meet his standards, and he offers us his mercy to help us never give up
He calls us to follow him, to love others as he has loved us first, to live according to his standards and not give in to the corrupting standards of evil. He calls us to be a Christian witness by our lives and our love.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, you have commanded us to refrain from solving evil with evil. Fill our hearts with Your love so that we can spread this love throughout the world to annihilate all evil.
Jesus is telling us that you cannot fight evil with evil. Evil is defeated by God’s Goodness and Love. Love is a very powerful force that pacifies all evil thoughts in human beings. When I say all, I mean all. Jesus tells us that if you want to solve all problems with your neighbor use love. Speak with love, caution with love, rebuke with love, etc. It means if your neighbor has wronged you, don’t let your anger overcome you, make sure you communicate your displeasure but leave the situation solved with no hatred or hard feelings between you both.