June 16, 2008
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 and 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you; I hope in you; I love you. Please increase my faith so that I can believe more firmly in you. Increase my hope so that I can trust you at every moment in my life. Give me charity so that I can love you and those around me for love of you.
Petition: Jesus, teach me true charity!
1. Revenge or Justice. “An eye for an eye....” Revenge has a tantalizing attraction. Oh, how we enjoy those movies where the down-and-out hero suddenly gets the upper hand, pays back all of the evil the villain has been inflicting on others, and justice prevails. But is this really justice? Jesus speaks clearly: “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Our virtue must go beyond that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.
2. Perfect Justice. Christ invites us to go beyond the “tit-for-tat” mentality: “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” Jesus is not trying to teach us passivism; rather, he is inviting us to discover that love is the perfection of justice. Humility and forgiveness are the pillars of this radically new mentality. Only in the light of these can we hope to build true and enduring peace in the world, amongst those around us and even within ourselves.
3. Self-giving Love. Fulfillment of this attitude is not merely to avoid direct retaliations but rather to form a generous and magnanimous heart which knows how to give itself without ever giving up. Jesus gave not only his tunic and cloak but all of his clothes to those who were to crucify him (cf. John 19:23). Jesus walked the extra mile, which brought him to the top of Calvary (cf. John 19:17). Jesus promised salvation to the criminal who asked him to remember him (cf. Luke 23:42-43).
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are God. You came down from heaven to teach me how to love, but I have such a hard time loving those around me and even loving myself sometimes. By your almighty grace, help me to be more like you, to forgive and to give myself to others so that I can make their lives just a bit happier and make this world a better place to live.
Resolution: I will perform one small act of charity today: thinking or speaking well of someone, or offering myself to help them.
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