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.”
When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Matthew 5:39)
No pain, no gain. You reap what you sow. The punishment should fit the crime. These sayings express our belief in natural consequences and proportional justice. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus addresses the Jewish version of this principle: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (see Leviticus 24:20). It may sound harsh to us, but the people would have understood it as a merciful commandment that curbed anger and placed a limit on revenge.
But even that’s not merciful enough for Jesus. He tells his listeners to turn the other cheek and to offer no resistance whatsoever to an enemy. By going beyond what’s challenging but reasonable, Jesus gets to the heart of the Law: the disproportionate, undeserved mercy of God.
Looking back at these words through the lens of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can see how he perfectly fulfilled this command. But it wasn’t only during his final days that Jesus turned the other cheek. According to St. John Paul II,
Turning the other cheek is hard, but don’t get discouraged. Jesus knows how hard it is. He won’t condemn you if you should fall to the temptation to seek revenge or to withhold forgiveness. He’ll simply do what he has always done—turn the other cheek, forgive you, and offer you more of his grace to do better.
“Jesus, thank you for your constant mercy and grace!”
(Today’s bible reading reflection courtesy of my friend)
(The banner I designed as a backdrop on the stage for next week’s event. I didn’t expect that I would asked to this. I’m grateful that I have skills to share in the service of God. I know in my heart He listens and He’s not blind to my loneliness and daily struggles.)