Today’s Gospel is a reminder of our constant call to love one another. The line that jumps out at me is, “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” This is not common practice in our society. We see on TV shows, movies, the news, and even in real life people getting revenge or serving payback for someone’s wrongdoing. Jesus is telling us to not treat evil with evil, but rather with love. This is easier said than done. While we often say to ourselves, “Okay, I’m not going to do the same thing that has been done to me,” when we have been treated badly, it becomes difficult when we are actually placed in that situation. When we are hurt, physically or emotionally, our first instinct is to inflict the same pain onto the other person. This is the devil working in our lives, but God continues to call out to us to love continually. This does not mean to love when things are going well or when someone loves you. It means to love ALWAYS. How do we do this? As it says in Matthew 25:40 “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mind, you did for me.” When you get into an argument with someone, or someone has hurt you, imagine Jesus is standing before you. You would not hit Jesus, or speak foul words towards Jesus, but that is what we do when our actions and words stem from evil and not love. Let us use the image of Jesus to draw ourselves into prayer and a state of love and peace.
As it says in the Gospel of Luke 6:35-36, “Rather love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Who are we to judge others and hold grudges against people when God, our Almighty Father, has enough grace and love to have mercy on all people? We are called to show the same compassion, mercy, and love that God shows.
Lord, give us strength this day to respond to your call to love another. Give us courage to turn the other cheek and to pray for our enemies instead of seeking evil against them.