Last week we spoke about how the wisdom of God is different from human wisdom. We learn today a bit more about just how different that wisdom is when Jesus continues his authoritative interpretation of the Law given to Moses. He seeks to transform our lives in a deeper way than the past, to heal us at the source of our spiritual disease.
The wisdom of this world, of our culture here in 21st century USA, is often a wisdom that falls way short of what we were created to be. Our American culture is so much a “dog-eat-dog” society, where we are all competing for the limited goods and successes that are available, so every other person around us is an obstacle to be overcome. The ways of the world say “get even” (“an eye for an eye”) and then “get ahead.”
Every one of us has experienced this false wisdom in our lives and in our own hearts. I remember being bullied a little bit as a Freshman in high school. Was I ready to “love my enemy” in that situation: not so much. I kinda wanted to get even, or at least to have the guy brought down, humiliated, and put in his place. I was looking for immediate and direct justice, and there was no love in my heart at the time. Years later I found out that the guy ran a red light and now has to live with the fact that he killed someone by his bad choices. I can only imagine what that might do to someone. I now pray that God helps him to change, to heal, and to bring God’s mercy and forgiveness to others.
God’s wisdom is different: “offer no resistance to evil.” How does that help? What could that possibly do? A lot. It can transform an entire society, one person at a time. Just ask Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. They put this gospel lesson into practice in a radical way: forcing “enemies” to realize the common humanity that they share by not running away and hiding in our own little bubbles. Rather, no matter how difficult it is to keep this encounter going, look them in the face, show them who your dignity, force them to see how horrible their actions are. Perhaps then they will come to their senses, realize their own failings, and be transformed. May God help us to be people of communion in the midst of a society that often fails to encounter those who are different from us, our so called “enemies” who are actually our brothers and sisters.
“Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is the ultimate challenge that God offers us. And Jesus gets more specific on how to do that, which only makes it more difficult: love your neighbor as yourself, even to the point of loving your enemies. Come Lord Jesus, feed us in this Eucharist, and help us to love as you love from the Cross.