7TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
This Sunday in our Gospel we are told that we should offer the wicked man no resistance and that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us these are strong words. Jesus asks his followers to take a different approach by resisting retaliation altogether. The response to a stronger person who slaps us on the cheek, takes us to court, or demands a service of us is not to resist. Similarly, for a weaker person, such as a beggar or borrower, we are to give him or her what he or she asks for. Those who are called to the Kingdom of Heaven are to go beyond the way the world usually works and serve God’s kingdom here on earth. We must, if we are truly Christian, forgive those who offend or injure us. We must love all men, whether they be friends or enemies. G. K. Chesterton says : “We are commanded to love our neighbours and our enemies; very often we find that they are the same people.” This is very true for all of us. It is very easy for us to love in a theoretical way all people as they never come in contact with us in a personal way and never tread on our feet. But it is those among whom I live and work, who are liable to injure me and might become my enemies.
Jesus argues that the love that we his disciples give people is not related to the love they receive from others: it is not a social contract or a fair bargain it is unconditional. The disciple loves because that is what the nature of discipleship involves. That means loving your enemy as yourself and doing good to those who would persecute you . A disciple is the child of the Father and look at the Father’s gracious love for us as we are. He does not withhold the sun and the rain from those who oppose him; likewise, disciples must not withhold their love from those who oppose them. The love is offered not because Jesus thinks that it will change the enemy into something else: certainly, love might confuse the enemy! Love is offered because that is the example and the way of life disciples of the kingdom should follow.
Jesus is telling us not to follow the way of the world, which often perpetuates old oppressions and makes new ones as well. This only leaves people stuck and unable to move forward. Jesus is telling us that we should be agents of real change in the world by acting in unexpected ways. This means that we do not go along with the crowd but rather approach the various situations of life with new and imaginative thinking as befits a disciple of Christ.
He wants us to see the world from the top down as God does. And then by seeing the world the way it really is with all that is good and bad within it we will find that we are in a far better position to change it.