A few times since Easter I have again been very conscious of God’s Love beyond reason. I’m reminded of the well-known saying from the Pensees by Blaise Pascal, 17th century mathematician, scientist and religious philosopher -- in one translation, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” (Some of us may remember that the Duchess of Windsor’s ghost-written memoir was titled The Heart Has Its Reasons.) We know examples of this in human love; we praise and give thanks for the astonishing, unending compassionate Love of God.
Now in today’s Readings I say again: “God is really stupid.” I mean again: God defies (transcends) human reason. The first reading from Second Corinthians ends by listing facts showing the power of God defying human understanding. For example, “We are treated. . . as dying and behold we live.”
Then in the Gospel Jesus teaches: “Offer no resistance to one who is evil.” This strikes me at first as “really stupid.” Surely one must always resist evil. Our work in this world in some way must resist evil – for examples, a teacher resists the evils of ignorance and apathy; a nurse resists the evils of illness and disability. We employ people to resist major evils like war and crime, in our Army, Navy or Air Force, in our police and sheriffs departments and similar public and private services. Actually, since we have people officially trained to combat evil with force, the standard advice now that the experts give to the public is that when one is confronted by a criminal, one should not try to resist. Jesus’s words here are street-smart!
Suddenly, as I was thinking over these readings, I experienced a tiny example of the folly of automatically responding with resistance. Hoping to maintain our health and strength by regular exercise, we belong to a private club with a three-lane indoor pool. I was thinking about today’s Gospel passage as I swam laps. As I turned at the deep end, I saw a man jump into “my” lane at the shallow end. I first thought, “That’s rude, he should ask to share the lane.” My first feelings were annoyance and some fear that he might swim into me – I don’t swim a neat straight line, so that whenever I share a lane, I have to concentrate on not crashing into another swimmer. Luckily my second immediate reaction was “Of course he’s welcome – in fact, he’s entitled to share the pool -- I’ll just be careful,” and I started swimming slowly back towards him. But the man merely dunked himself a couple of times and climbed out again. He had been in the sauna and wanted to cool down a bit before entering the spa/whirlpool’s very warm water. If my first reaction was “reasonable,” it was certainly lacking in the openness that came a few seconds later.
Thus, in this Gospel Jesus is teaching Advanced Ethics -- not about war or law enforcement, but about – yes, LOVE. It may be “street-smart,” it surely is “Christian” to meet evil and hostility with charity and forbearance. I think Jesus teaches me today to recognize that every other human being belongs to our one “club.” “Give to the one who asks you” is about the same as “Love one another as I have Loved you.”
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