“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.
Food for Thought:
An eye for an eye is the principle that a person who has injured another person is penalized to a similar degree, or according to other interpretations the victim receives the value of the injury in compensation. According to Jewish interpretations, the victim in criminal law gets financial compensation based on the law of human equality eschewing mutilation and lex talionis. The English word talion means, “a retaliation authorized by law, in which the punishment corresponds in kind and degree to the injury, from the Latin talio.” Jesus replaces the Old Testament Jewish understanding of the law of retaliation with a law of love. He shocks his audience by saying, “don’t retaliate, turn the other cheek.” This is a high and hard command, but we have the perfect example in Jesus who, when he was on the cross, asked God to forgive the people that had put him on the cross.
Loving God, your law is the law of love. Guide us to be your loving creatures in this world. When someone wrongs us, help us to offer forgiveness. When someone hurts us, help us to not hurt them back. When someone strikes us, give us the self-control not to strike back. Guide us to be your peaceful people in this world and help us to spread love all over your world. In your name we pray, Amen.