Gospel Reflection for 23rd February 2020
An eye for and eye?
There is the old military that says the best form of defence is attack. Meaning, do to someone before they do it to you!
Jesus begins the gospel by quoting the Jewish Law; ‘You have learnt how it was said: an eye for eye and tooth for a tooth.’ This means that if you hit me, I am entitled, even obliged to hit you back in retaliation. If an eye for an eye was accepted by everyone, we would have a lot of blind people around us! Jesus suggests and asks that we find another way to solve our differences; but be warned, it’s not easy!
He says, if someone hits you, offer no resistance, on the contrary, turn the other cheek. If someone takes your coat, give them your other one! He asks us to give whenever we are asked for something and never to turn away from or refuse anyone! I told you, this was not going to be easy – at all! But he’s not finished. Tradition says that we are to love our friends and neighbours and hate our enemies. Jesus says, no, this is not enough and not good enough! We are to love our enemies. If we love only those who love us in return, can we claim any credit or appreciation?
What is Jesus asking of us? Is he being any way realistic is what he want us to do? When he himself was being attacked and spat at, he literally turned the other cheek and prayed, ‘Forgive them Father, because they don’t know what they are doing.’
Let’s dream a little. Every night on our televisions, we see so many wars and brutal conflicts taking place around the world. Guns are fired, bombs are dropped; counties are destroyed and people die. One side retaliates after being attacked. Imagine if they didn’t shoot and fire back; just imagine instead if they asked to meet; to talk and look for peace and reconciliation? We can but hope and dream.
My heroes are Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. These two men believed passionately in non-violence and passive resistance. Gandhi brought the British Empire to its knees by refusing to fight back; he never gave up or gave in, in the end they did! King fought for the dignity of all people and refused to fight, attack or use violence. They both looked to Jesus as their role model and example of how to live with hatred, violence and intolerance. They both actually turned the other cheek – countless times when they marched and protested.
We can’t control how others treat us; but we can decide how we respond and react to them; the choice is ours; not theirs.
Non-violence is the greatest force at our disposal. It is more effective than the mightiest weapon of destruction ever created. (Mohandas K. Gandhi : 1869 – 1948)
-Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel for February 23rd : Matt 5:38-48 ©
Love your enemies
Jesus said to his disciples:’You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
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