Homily for the seventh Sunday of the year

Year A  -  Mt. 5:38-48


by

  Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" Jesus said to 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, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.


" «You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.» "



Homily:


" Jesus said to 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, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.» "


For the past few Sundays, we heard Jesus in his sermon on the Mount. Jesus began with the beatitudes (see the Fourth Sunday of the Year); today, he offers us the most sublime recommendations possible for attaining eternal life and happiness: "But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil."


Jesus came to the earth to teach us, but not without offering himself as a practical example of his teaching. "But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil." Where and when did Jesus forbid himself from resisting one who is evil? During his Passion, of course. "If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Was it not during the Passion that Jesus was betrayed with a kiss, which was much worse than being struck on the cheek? "While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, 'Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?' " (Lk 22:47-48)


If Jesus thus provides us with his example, it is so that we might follow it and do as he does. Are we ready? Perhaps... Are we afraid? No doubt. But why? The principal reason for our fear is certainly a lack of trust in Jesus. Is he not God Almighty? Jesus underwent his Passion in order to take us with him to the eternal Glory of his Resurrection! Let us follow Jesus! He was struck on the right cheek. Let us turn our left cheek, if we want to live with Jesus, for the Father, in the Holy Spirit!


" «If any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.» "


Let us recall again the Passion of the Lord. Did Jesus not suffer in his body and soul due to a tunic and a robe? Before he was whipped, Christ had to suffer the ignominy of wearing the garment of madmen, that white tunic which replaced his original tunic and which was given to him by Herod (cf. Lk 23:9). And after the flagellation, that terrible, horrible torment, Jesus had to wear again the purple robe (cf. Mt 27:28), which had been removed just after he was given the crown of thorns. Then came the long way of the cross, which went to the place of torment: Jesus went to the very end of that way, for that was the will of God, his Father! Finally, Christ, our Savior, died on the Cross of Calvary, in complete nudity. He had undergone the trial of the tunic and the robe, and then he went the extra mile by the command of his tormentors.


" «You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.» "


After having taught us the way of life that leads to eternal happiness, Jesus reveals to us the spirit of this way of life: love your enemies! Having commented on these same words of the gospel, Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus writes, with much spiritual finesse: "Oh how contrary are the divine teachings to the inclinations of nature! Without the help of grace, it would be impossible, not only to put them into practice, but even to understand them." (Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul, chapter IX)


What must we do, above all, to love our enemies and obtain from God the reward of eternal life? We must pray, for it is through prayer, and through it alone, that God will grant us his grace, which can accomplish anything! As Jesus said, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Let us pray to Mary, the Mediatrix of all the graces of God, in Christ! Through Mary, let us pray to our Father in Heaven and ask him to draw us to Himself, who is perfect, holy, and sanctifying, and let us say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen!