First Reading: 2Cor 6:1-10; Psalm: 98. R. v. 2a; Gospel: Mt 5:38-42
CHOOSING THE WAY OF MERCY
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Retaliation was a very common practice for ancient Israel. It was so cruel and incommensurate that it bred injustice and violence. To curtail this violence and promote justice, the law of retaliation was established by Moses – “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” (Lv 24:19-20). This new law was considered just and practiced by the people of Israel. It also reduced the harm of retaliation to a proportionate level as against the practice of getting even with offenders based on one’s own satisfaction.
Jesus was greater than the prophet Moses. His coming brought a new dimension to this law of retaliation. Jesus approached this law from a divine dimension and taught that the offended must overlook retaliation and show forgiveness. The offended should be after mercy and peace and not harm and fighting for God does not repay us according to our sins but according to the richness of mercy and compassion. St Paul urged us further to arm ourselves with the weapons of righteousness by enduring the afflictions that may come our way. For if we remained compassionate and merciful, we shall be favoured by God.
The teaching of non retaliation is definitely not an easy teaching in a violent world such as the one we presently live in. Most Christians today still believe that getting even is the best approach to justice and to keep the enemy at bay. And this works for them. But does it please God? If God decided to treat us according to our guilt, none of us would live. It is a different thing to fight in defence when our life is under threat. But retaliation is another thing entirely. Retaliation is getting back at an offender after the offence or harm had been done. It is an act carried out solely for the purpose of inflicting pain on the offender. There is no love in such action. This is exactly what Jesus frowned at and what we must desist from to prove our faith in God.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace of forgiveness and increase your love in us. Amen.