Gospel Reflection – June 19th, 2023

The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

Reflection: God’s righteousness involves a freedom to love and serve others, that is in no way bound by the other person’s character, motives, or relationship with the One who is loving. This righteousness that Jesus fulfills and provides for us is rooted in overflowing grace and love, it frees us to give without regard to whether we will receive anything back.  Personally, I continue to struggle with God’s righteousness because I WANT what is proportional, equal and fair! And I’ve come to realize that this struggle, this attitude is a restrictive way to live – it’s tit-for-tat – I’m like a 4th grader in school.

 Being struck on the cheek, one could seek out prosecution – Christ is saying a righteous man thinks, “You think you have insulted me by this action, but in order to show you that you have no power to insult me because I know to whom I belong, I will offer to let you slap my other cheek as well.”

If someone sues you for your coat, Jesus suggests you give them your cloak as well. They are out to take it by force from you, but you turn around and demonstrate that if they intend to wrongfully take it from you, you are going to choose to give to them freely if they need it so badly.

At the time of Christ, a Roman soldier could legally make you carry something (usually all his military baggage) for him for one mile. If the soldier makes this demand of you, you may well feel as if you are being forced to do this, that you have no choice. But Jesus’ tells His disciples that true righteousness would also lead you to walk a second mile for the man. What you are saying is, “You think that you are forcing me to do this, as if I have no choice. To show you that I am free from your tyranny and that I freely choose to do this, because I serve an even higher Authority, I will go with you even farther than you expect me to.”

This is the amazing righteousness that is at the heart of the triune God, and that Jesus in fulfilling the law has come to share with us.

Action of the Day: Love, kindness, and grace HAS to start with just one person and that is you! When you go to eat after Mass, maybe you’ll let someone have that primo parking space, even though you got there first. When your neighbor’s dog does a number on your lawn, you don’t pick it up and put it on his doorstep; you just pick it up. When your employer tells you that you are no longer needed at the company, you swallow hard and say, “Thank you for the privilege of working here.” If we belong to the God of grace and love, we must become people of grace and love.

Audio Reflection:

time lapse photo of river between mossy rocks
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