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 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.
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Sometimes the hardest Gospel texts to hear and live are the simplest. Today, our selection from the Gospel of Matthew contains such passages. Jesus, still preaching the “Sermon on the Mount,” acts in the role of a “new Moses”—a new kind of lawgiver. He builds on the commandments of old, but commands us to go deeper. Rather than retaliating for evil done to us, we are to offer no resistance, hand over our possessions, go the extra mile. Instead of hating our enemies, we’re to love them. We are to pray for our persecutors. In short, we’re commanded to practice a perfection which imitates the perfection of the Father in heaven.
In one of his movies, filmmaker Woody Allen portrays an egotistical writer whose friend accuses him of trying to be like God. “Well,” says Woody’s character, “I have to model my life on somebody!” Allen’s humor has always struck me as an unintended commentary on the Christian life. Far from being an exercise in arrogance, striving to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” is our way to salvation.
Without the grace we’re offered in Jesus Christ, of course, that task is impossible. But if we respond to the challenging commands of the Lord in today’s Gospel, we are certainly assured of God’s help to live them out.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• Does the first reading from the book of Leviticus (19:1-2, 17-18) give you a good reason to obey the law of God?
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Sometimes this is called the “Golden Rule” because a similar rule is found in many places and cultures around the world. Do you use this rule in your school, business or home?
• In the second reading (1Cor 3:16-23), St. Paul says that we are temples of God because God dwells in each of us. What does that mean in our relations with others?
St. Paul also urges everyone to remember that we all belong to Christ and Christ to God. He is trying to get the people in Corinth to forget their differences and to respect others. Is that a good idea for today? Why or why not?
• What does Jesus say about the principle “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” That is a part of the Jewish law. Does Jesus think that is enough?
Jesus teaches that we must love our enemies. Do we do that? It seems we must also love those who seem to be wrong or we find to be disagreeable or disgusting. Can you think of anyone who is like that?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• The Gospel says that if someone asks you to go one mile, you should go for two. Go to a local park--or even just your neighborhood and take a walk. Try to walk as far as you can--maybe even a mile or two.
• Each of us has people who we don't get along with. Make an extra effort this week to be nice to someone you don't normally interact with much.