Jesus said, “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.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:38-48
It is certainly hard to forgive and even harder to forgive when violence has been done. Turning the other cheek is to invite pain and further suffering, letting go of the natural human impulse to slap back and defend oneself. This body we all have been given are part animal, and we either fight or flee when abused. How can we stand by and let someone take advantage of us. It is harder to turn the other cheek than to let go of a coat, walk the extra mile or make a donation or loan. Our whole being is about self-protection.
Jesus has just given lessons on how to be blessed and we call them the beatitudes. We receive blessings when we are poor, reviled, persecuted etc. Then he pushes further. Turn the other cheek, love your enemies, pray for our persecutors? Impossible, we say. We are only human. And yet, we are being invited to our best selves, those who understand the violence and greed is about the other's pain, and winning is not the goal - loving well is. We can try to follow these teachings and we will certainly fail, yet the joy, peace and blessings come when we try.
Today I ask God to help me try to follow these teachings. May we change the world by making generosity our goal, forgiveness our action plan and loving our mission.