“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.
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was not encouragement to take revenge but was meant to put a limitation on one’s retaliation. We live in a world that calls on us to seek revenge and retaliation when we have been wronged, but Jesus calls us to a very different kind of response, one that requires great inner strength, self-respect and respect for the dignity of our attacker. He calls us to mercy and love.
We have more than enough evidence in our world of the never-ending cycle of hate, mistrust and violence. Not many ever seems to try Jesus response of mercy and love. G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. How different would the world be if we responded to hate, mistrust and violence with forgiveness and by doing a sacrificial good for that person? Jesus gave us the ultimate example of responding with love and mercy with his willingness to suffer and die on the cross for the sins of mankind.
Are you willing to respond with mercy and love next time you have been wronged? How can you start to move in that direction?
—Chris LaMothe teaches theology at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.
Father, forgive them for the do not know what they do.