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Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, June 17, 2024


Mt 5:38-42

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."


Reading this Gospel, I can vividly imagine the confusion and surprise the disciples might have had as they listened to Jesus' teaching, because I know their confusion all too well. The principle of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was deeply ingrained in their culture, just as it is in our society today.

In a world where the pursuit of revenge and the idea of getting even are such common themes, Jesus saying to “turn the other cheek" to your enemy seems almost absurd. I used to have a hard time reading this passage, as at first glance to me it sounded like Jesus wanted us to be passive and timid, however after further reflection I realize this was not the case at all. Instead, I now see it as a profound call to have courageous love and forgiveness.

These traits forgiveness, love and mercy are not signs of weakness, they are powerful and difficult acts to achieve. They require immense strength and courage, far more than the instinctual response of simply retaliating in kind. It is hard in moments when we are wronged to find it in ourselves to forgive regardless, seeking revenge has never been shown to lead to peace or healing. It only perpetuates the cycle of hurt and hostility, like the saying “hurt people, hurt people”. Jesus’s teaching challenges us to be strong enough to break this cycle and confront evil with a force that it cannot comprehend or withstand.


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