Daily Gospel Reflection - Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua
Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua
Priest and Doctor of the Church
Gospel: Mt 5:38-42
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, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today, in the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord exhorts us to nonresistance to evil. Martin Luther King Jr. was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s techniques, and Gandhi learned them, largely, from the Sermon on the Mount.
Both Gandhi and King appreciated that the text dealing with the nonresistance to evil has nothing to do with passivity in the face of injustice, but rather with a new and distinctive type of resistance.
Consider the Lord’s injunction, "When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well." I realize that this sounds like mere passivity, fleeing before evil, but the truth is anything but. In Jesus’ time, you would not have used your left hand for any type of social interaction, since it was considered unclean. Therefore, to strike someone on the right cheeks to strike him with the back of your hand, the way a master might treat a slave.
By turning the other cheek, one neither fights back directly nor flees, but rather stands his ground and declares, "You will not treat me that way again." It thereby effectively mirrors back to the aggressor his aggression. It is the declaration that the aggressed person refuses to cooperate with the world of the aggressor.