You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Hold on Lord! I am confused. “Offer no resistance to one who is evil?” Isn’t combatting evil in the world one of the things we are called to do?
My first inclination when confronting evil, especially that directed at me, is to respond with righteous wrath. It is like when I was a boy and one of my brothers would do me “bad,” it was time to do them “bad” in return. I don’t know how many times I heard from my mother and father, “two wrongs don’t make a right!”
I think this is essentially what Jesus is saying to us today. When we respond to evil/bad with evil/bad, we are just perpetuating the all too often escalating cycle of evil/bad. In doing so, we become instruments of evil rather than of God’s love. Jesus asks us to “kill” the evil/bad with kindness and love. This is exactly what Jesus did on the Cross.
—David McNulty works in the Operations office for the Midwest Jesuits.
Lord Jesus, by the mystery of the cross teach us how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to oppose evil without becoming evil ourselves. Help us to stretch in both directions—toward God’s goodness and also toward recognition of our own complicity in evil. Help us to be with you, crucified, hanging in between, without resolution, but always held in hope by God.