This passage of the Gospel seems to express an idealism that is totally unrealistic and unattainable. It forces us to put aside our prejudices and assumptions. This is the core of Jesus’ teaching often expressed as the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Love one another. It requires a positive attitude towards people enabling us to wish for their well-being even if they are perceived as enemies. This reflects the love of God who wishes the fullest well-being of every person. Within that perspective, loving our enemies seems possible. Turning the other cheek becomes not an act of weakness but shows inner strength and the understanding that the one who strikes back is the one who is really weak. To put Jesus’ teaching into effect is not a matter of strengthening our will to do something that seems impossible but to change our thinking at the deepest level.
May I have a changed mind and heart.
What does this gospel teaching mean to you? What is your reaction? What does it ask of you?
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as God is merciful.
Are you merciful, are you merciful with the people who have hurt you? Or who do not love you?
We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.
If you contemplate the Golden Rule, it turns out to be an injunction to live by grace rather than by what you think other people deserve.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.
Love people who hate you. Pray for people who have wronged you. It won’t just change their life…it’ll change yours.