Seventh Sunday, Year A. Matt. 5:38-48
At first sight today’s Gospel seems very demanding.
Demanding might seem an understatement. Perhaps the immediate response of many will be; it’s impossible. It’s audacious in its demands; “offer the wicked man no resistance, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well …”
Yet when Jesus begins to argue that if we do good only to those who do good to us and save our greetings for our friends (brothers) only, I think we can begin to see that he’s got a point.
When the words of Jesus drag us to look at ourselves in this way we can begin to see the obvious limitations of our goodness and by comparison the magnanimous goodness of God who “causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good …”
Thus, here again we glimpse the missionary demand of Jesus, to move out of ourselves individually and collectively and to go out and always be charitable – even towards our enemies!
To live in this way is counter cultural. It sets us apart, makes us like a city built on a hilltop. You will never hear a Government minister or a TD* ask this of you. No media person will ask it of you. But Jesus asks it. Who do you follow?
While we might think that modern Ireland is challenging Catholicism, it’s actually not challenging Catholicism at all; rather, it’s challenging a poorly incarnated (lived) Catholicism. No democracy will ever present you with a challenge greater than loving your enemy or being as perfect as your Father in Heaven!
In the end we’re being called to love like Jesus Christ who gave his life, not just for good men, but for bad men too.
These words of Jesus open doors that’ll – if we pass through – get us in a lot of trouble!
*TD – a member of the Irish Parliament (Dail Eireann)