“ What Jesus asks us to do is to try every means to achieve peace and not to resort to violence.”
IN the Gospel this Sunday (Matthew 5:38-48), Jesus gives us a strong mandate. It asks us to approach a conflict in a non-violent manner, not to give in to any retaliation and hatred.
He told his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.”
This mandate is debatable, especially in times of war or in instances when we have to defend ourselves. Of course, we can’t allow someone to hurt us or kill us without protecting ourselves and other people.
What Jesus asks us to do is to try every means to achieve peace and not to resort to violence. Jesus’ way of life is all about love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice.
Jesus urges us to a life of radical generosity—to hand over our other cloak as well to someone who demands our tunic, to go the extra mile in helping someone in need, and to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
It’s an overwhelming mandate, but it’s what Jesus’ Kingdom stands for. We can either accept it or not. Our choice!
Living Jesus’ commandments makes us distinct from others who live under the law of retaliation and selfishness.
Isn’t this our ideal goal as individuals, families, and a community of faith? Every decision, choice, and step we make to build a healthy relationship should be based on Jesus’ commandments of love and mercy, which make us stand out among others.
As Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?”
Let’s strive to live these mandates of Jesus. Let’s work together despite our differences. Let’s embrace one another as brothers and sisters, removing from our minds and hearts any biases, prejudices, and hatred. Let’s sow peace and unity in our communities and society!
Blessings to all!
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.