One could spend years pondering chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel. As it has unfolded in recent days piece by piece, the teachings that outline the message of Jesus have been laid out for all those within hearing distance over the past 2,000 years. While not abrogating the law of Moses (Jesus was very clear that he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it), today’s text stands in sharp contrast to common practices of his day. It calls people to action in new ways that will lead to higher consciousness – becoming more like the God that Jesus came to proclaim. It sets a standard of surrender for love’s sake and preaches humility rather than entitlement. Below are a couple of examples to ponder.

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…If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, give 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.

These are difficult sayings, especially in our country of rugged individualism and economic ladder-climbing, where “might is right” struggles with the laws of charity and forgiveness. We all find ourselves at different points on the spectrum of opinion about these teachings. Perhaps today is a good one to check our beliefs and examine the “why” of each, getting as close as possible to the honest roots of our motivation for any resistance we find that holds us back from the acceptance toward which Jesus beckons.

 

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