2 CORINTHIANS 6:1-10; PSALM 98; MATTHEW 5:38-42
In the Gospel reading Jesus said to his disciples “you have heard how it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil” (Matt. 5:38-39). Jesus cited this old law called lex talionis the law of tit for tat which far from being a bloodthirsty law, is in fact the beginning of mercy. (Exd.21:23-25). Today this law is highly misinterpreted. There are three things we must bear in mind about this law. 1. The goal of the law was justice through the limitation of vengeance 2. It was not meant for private individual to extract vengeance; rather it was for judges to access punishment and penalty. 3. It was never carried out literally; otherwise it will reverse justice. Therefore, let us be mindful of the way we interpret the Bible.
Jesus the perfecter of the law moves from the old law of limited vengeance to a spirit of non-retaliation. Throughout his suffering and ministry Jesus did not tolerate evil and he did not defend himself with force and violence. As the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev.5:5) he could have retaliated but he did not because he is the Lamb of God (John1:29). As the Mighty one in battle (Ps.24:8) he could have fought for himself; but he did not because he is the Prince of peace (Is.9:6). As the Chief Judge (John5:22) he could have ordered deadly penalty; but he forgave his murderers (Luke 23:34). In John 18:10 when Jesus was arrested Peter slashed off the ear of Malchus; but Jesus said to him Peter sheath your sword. Beloved in Christ, no doubt we have right to self defense but Jesus says sheath your sword. In the name of self defense many are already street fighters. Our real self defense should be self control, self discipline and self education. It is good to protest; but we must ensure that our protest is peaceful. M. K. Gandhi noted; “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. Beloved, we must express Christ in all things. We must not be violent to restore our world. In the first reading, St. Paul reminds us that in all things we must let the glory of God shine through us so that others may come to believe in God.
LET US PRAY
O God, strength of those who hope in you, graciously hear our pleas, and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing, grant us always the help of your grace, that in following your commands we may please you by our resolve and our deeds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.