There seems to always be this balance of power between being generous, forgiving, and “Christian” and being someone who just lets them selves be rolled over and used. The readings this weekend always bring out that discussion. “Turn the other cheek,” and “love your enemies” are completely counter to any normal reaction.
Jesus knows this as He speaks to his disciples in Matthew. He also knows that this is what will change the world. So, how do we balance it? Do we let people take advantage of us, treat us like trash, and respond, “Thank you, I love you?” I don’t think so. There are times that justice must be demanded. There are times that behavior must be corrected. Even Jesus chastised the Pharisees and upended the sales area of the Temple.
However, there are many more times that justice is balanced with forgiveness and love. There are times that our kindness can startle someone into changing their behavior. There are times when our gentleness can diffuse a situation rather than escalating it. There are times when our love will reverberate in a soul and reach it in a way that no justice could ever do. We are called to go the extra mile. We are called to turn the other cheek. We are called to love our enemies. We just need to realize that we are called to these much more often than we would think.
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 the one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
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, eye for an eye
, go the extra mile
, hate your enemy
, how do I forgive
, love your enemy
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