Monday, 11th Week in Ordinary Time
“I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.”
Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness rather than revenge was – and still is – difficult to accept. It runs counter to all that we, as fallen men and women, have in our hearts concerning how to relate to others. If we are wronged, for instance, we feel we have the right to retaliate. When we are hurt, whether verbally or physically, we feel justified in seeking revenge. Leo Zanchettin, in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, has this striking reflection on today’s gospel passage: “Our focus on our rights and on justice causes us to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and raise ourselves above them.”
Zanchettin further comments that Jesus died on the cross so that all people could be united in one body – his Body. He wants his people to live in unity. In order for this to occur, however, we need to obey God’s command to love him and to love one another. The commandment of love, which was most perfectly lived out by Jesus, is the first obligation we have as sons and daughters of God.
The Lord Jesus gives us the power every day to live out this command to love and forgive one another. When we are wronged, our first response must be to say in our hearts that we believe that Jesus died on the cross for everyone… that his victory is stronger than our hunger for revenge. We can then ask God for the grace to forgive, to return good for evil. With God’s grace we can control or overcome our desire for revenge or retaliation. We can pray for our enemies; we can do good to those who do us bad. We would be able to speak well of those who speak ill of us; we would be able to forgive those who abuse and hurt us. The more we live this out, the stronger will the love of God grow within us.
Let us end with a short prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that through your cross you drew all people to yourself. Help me to forgive, rather than condemn; to love, rather than hate. Teach me to care beyond what I think is expected of me. May I grow in my love for you and for my neighbor. Amen.