June 14, 2021 – Monday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061421.cfm)
Our common response when we are hurt is to react in retaliation. Among animals or even insects, when they are hurt suddenly they bite or attack us. Even when their territories are invaded, animals or insects react to protect themselves from possible threats.
A similar reaction would also happen with us. Even among children, when they are hit or experience hurt, to hit in return is the usual response. This is most common even among adults. There are even people who naturally fight back when they are hurt. Even in some cultures the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is still observed.
However, in today’s Gospel we have heard a different way of responding when we are hurt and when we experience the pain and suffering that evil brings. Indeed, Jesus tells us of a different response towards hatred and evil. Jesus said, “offer no resistance to one who is evil.”
What Jesus is basically saying to us is not to repay evil with evil or not to respond to violence with violence. As Jesus addressed this to his disciples, and so he does also to us now. Jesus calls us not to allow hatred, anger, violence and evil to control us.
Thus, not to resist to one who is evil, is not allowing evil to control us. Meaning, once we resist to one who is evil, this may bring us into the same position of the one who is evil. We shall respond to the same violence, then. Hence, responding evil with evil or responding to violence with violence will only bring us into an endless cycle of evil and violence.
The wisdom of Jesus lies in the offer of peace. To offer the other cheek when someone strikes us on the right cheek, though this sounds ridiculous for many of us, is an opportunity for the one who have hurt us to embrace peace and reconciliation. Peace and reconciliation is truly a difficult path. A very unpopular one. However, this is the way to end the cycle violence and evil.
But this will not be possible with our own ability to assess a situation. Our wisdom may not be enough to remain calm in a hostile environment. That is why, Paul is his second letter to the Corinthians reminds us, “not to receive the grace of God in vain.” Yes, we have been graced by the presence of God and it is by acknowledging God’s presence that we will be able to embrace peace and also offer peace.
Moreover, this is not an excuse to remain passive to the abuses and other forms of oppression. It does not mean that when your spouse is physically abusing you, or a family member is sexually abusing you, or a friend or colleague is exploiting your goodness and generosity, that you remain passive and indifferent. The teaching of Jesus is meant to keep violence at the minimum and not to escalate more violence towards others and ourselves. In such situations, we are called to get out from the abusive relationship and to demand justice and show mercy.
To demand justice then is to make the perpetrator take the responsibility and consequences. To show mercy is to get rid of hatred and anger within our hearts. This is our key to live free by offering peace and reconciliation towards those who have wronged us.
God invites us today to live freely by not allowing evil to control us or to have an access to our hearts by holding on to grudges, hatred, anger and selfishness. Hinaut pa.