June 16, 2014

The Gospel Today 

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 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.”

Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden Nuique):

     In this pericope from the Matthean Gospel, we read of seemingly illogical demands from Jesus.  Turn the other cheek, give your cloak not just your coat, go another mile, and do not refuse a debtor.  These acts do not seem like what a person with common sense does, rather, these acts seem to be more consistent with a fanatic, a radical, someone who wishes to set himself so apart from the rest that his conduct is shocking.

     I think that is exactly the purpose of the evangelist, to shock people from their stupor, from their complacency with what society accepts as practical behavior.  In the first reading, King Ahab slips into depression because Naboth refuses to give him his vineyard, the lowly citizen who says no to the monarch.  As a result, Queen Jezebel conspires with the elders of Naboth’s city to accuse him of blasphemy and treason, bringing about his death by stoning, and King Ahab’s control of the vineyard.  In this account from the First Book of Kings, nobody says anything against the rulers, even the elders and nobles of Naboth’s city agree with the falsehood and subsequent unjust execution.  Contrariwise, the Gospel writer departs from such cruel weak-mindedness and tells us to act against our self-interests.  He is so keen to prove that the Church built by Christ is the true people of God and that Christian values are as far from “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as the heavens are above the earth.

     If we are to live out our faith, to become witnesses to Christ whom we profess as Savior and Lord, then our first choice must be God and neighbor.  Our narcissism has no place in being disciples of Jesus.  The world must see that our actions flow from our words, our words stem from our thoughts, and our thoughts come from God.


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