Monday, June 18, 2018
Today, in Mercy, we encounter one of the most difficult passages of the Gospel – the admonitions to turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile.
Wow, these go against every natural instinct (at least mine! 👿) If someone slaps me, I’m slapping back! If someone grabs my goods, forces my labor, or has the guts to borrow my necessities, I’m gonna’ resist! What about you? Even the Book of Exodus supports “an eye for an eye” kind of justice, right? Well, Jesus says, “No, not right!”.
In this passage, Jesus shatters our natural inclinations for retribution, retaliation and even self-preservation.
He says that when we are struck or insulted, we should not respond in kind. Rather we should continue to stand our ground without being diverted into the violence of the attacker.
He says that when laws are used unjustly against us, we should not respond in kind. Rather, we should stand our ground and expose the unjust law by our willingness to engage it in the public forum.
He says that when unrecompensateded work is demanded of us, we should give it and more, thus doubly exposing the demander’s offense.
He says that to turn our back on a borrower, no matter how inopportune, is a form of violence against the borrower.
What Jesus is asking of us is a non-violent response to the insults and outrages thrown at us. But He is not asking us to be victims or doormats. Each of the admonitions instructs us not to ignore evil, but to respond to it with positive, peaceful strength.
Jesus himself is the quintessential example of this prophetic, non-violent lifestyle. He condemned evil for what it was, but he did not adopt its methods to do so.
Sister of Mercy Eileen Campbell, arrested at the White House
for peaceful protest of inhumane immigration policies.
Recent history offers us stellar examples of individuals who have understood and practiced this Gospel passage: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Berta Cáceres, and other modern peace activists – ordinary Christians like you and me.
They have heard and responded to today’s Gospel. Can we?