7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel, as Jesus continues to teach his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, he again reminds his hearers that more is expected of his disciples than what was laid down in the Old Testament. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.” That sounds like a command to take vengeance. On the contrary, it was a counsel of self-restraint — only hurt your opponent to the same degree that he/she hurts you and no more. Also, retaliation could only be authorized by a court. In our own time, it is not unusual to see people take vengeance far beyond the hurt that was done to them.


But Jesus proposes a quite different approach. “Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile…” What an impractical recipe! How could any self-respecting person follow such impish advice?


Does he really expect genuine, red-blooded human beings to react this way to hostility and violence? How can we possibly love people who do us harm, whom we know to be evil, wicked and corrupt?


Our natural reaction is always to easily take revenge on an enemy. What He challenges us is to do the unnatural—to exercise love towards our enemies. This is exactly what Jesus asks of us if we want to be his disciples—to die to our natural feelings and take on the magnanimous and forgiving heart of Jesus. He forgave his enemies on the cross.



Fray Onz Antonio, OAR

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