Jesus commands men to live with a revolutionary kind of love. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Charity so he can rely on the Church do discern issues of justice and by growing in the Virtue of Generosity so he can generosity give to those who are in need.
7th Week in Ordinary Time – Sunday – Cycle A – Mt 5:38-48
Continuing The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls for His disciples to a new way of self-giving, even in the face of evil and injustice. Rather than the Old Covenant law of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Ex 21:24) which sought to limit legal retribution to equal action, Jesus commands His disciples to “offer no resistance to one who is evil”, using particularly humiliating and extreme examples to make His point: accepting a slap to the face was highly insulting; giving up one’s tunic (inner garment) left a man naked; going the extra mile referred to carrying the hated occupying Roman soldier’s pack even father then required by Roman law.
Rather than the Old Covenant law that directed men to love their neighbor and hate their enemies, Jesus commands His disciples to love everyone. His edict of love has no exceptions, even for Gentiles and hated tax collectors. Rather than only passively refusing to not respond when attacked, Jesus radically commands His men to actively pray for those who persecute them.
Jesus offers a compelling rationale for why men should take up His call to revolutionary love: God the Father loves all men (sending sun and rain to all) and so those who aspire to be sons of God the Father must love like the Father does; disciples are called to heroic virtue, to be more holy than others who only love their own kind (Gentiles, tax collectors), loving even a man’s enemies; rather than a compromising and slothful mediocrity when it comes to love, Jesus calls His men to strive to be perfect like the Heavenly Father, who is Divine Perfection.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be challenged by Jesus’ call to the perfection of love: with Authority as the Divine King, Jesus commands His followers to a radically new standard of unconditional love that perfects the thousand-year-old rules given by the great Prophet Moses, and overturns most men’s standards for “justice” today; in place of suspicion, division and hateful acts, Jesus, the perfection of Peace and Joy, commands His men to go beyond passiveness to true Fraternity (a part of Justice) and to be Cheerful and seek Peace with all people.
Rely on the Church to discern issues of justice
Realize: In opposition to the truth of Catholic teaching on social justice, some in power have sought to stay in power, by claiming to promote “social justice”, but instead promote division, dependency, and warring factions with victims and oppressors; these evil acts stigmatize true “social justice”, enslave men to be dependent on government, and turn men against offering charity to others who legitimately need help.
Believe: Reflect upon the truth about Social Justice (CCC 1928-1948).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Justice, help me build the Virtue of Charity so I can respect the dignity of every person, have great compassion for the suffering of others, even those who reject You and promote sin, and be led by You to know when and how to offer the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for those in need.
Generously give to those who are in need
Realize: Going beyond “turning the other cheek” against evil attacks, Jesus calls on His disciples to give to those who beg or seek to borrow.
Believe: Reflect upon Christ’s Love of the Poor (CCC 2443-2449).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Charity, help me build the Virtue of Generosity (a part of Justice) so my heart becomes full of empathy for those who are suffering, and I respond by generously giving my time, talent, and treasure to those in need.