Missionary Weekly Reflection
Sunday, 23 February 2020
Lev. 19:1-2,17-18; Ps. 103:1-2,3-4,8,10,12-13; 1Cor. 3:16-23; Mat. 5:38-48
With 6 antithesis (formula: “You have heard… but I say to you…) in Matt. 5: 21-48, Jesus showed us how He fulfilled the Law, which means: He interprets the commandments of the Law according to its original purpose: the will of God, His Father. The fifth and sixth antithesis of today’s gospel invites you and me to break the cycle of evil and hostility, both as individual and as a church.
First, do not strive for vengeance. The law emphasizes that: losses must be paid back, but proportionally, not excessively. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” don’t increase it to “neck for an eye, head for a tooth” for example! Thus, the Law has tried to stop the escalation of vengeance and violence. Jesus demands more: Don’t fight evil with evil! That circle of revenge must be broken. Do not follow the “logic of violence” used by the opponent. Humiliation (“slapping the right cheek”, v. 39) is the weapon for demeaning. Jesus’ followers do not need to use the same weapon. Instead, they must “return the weapon” to the opponent: “give your left cheek too.” This means: the opponent’s weapon does not work: it is not able to make us angry or take revenge! He is actually invited to make peace and stop using the weapon of contempt!
Second, snatching is replaced by giving. The Law sets that a person’s cloak can be taken as a pledge (Exo. 22:26 etc., Deut. 24: 12-13). But it must be returned at night, so that the poor will not suffer cold. Jesus wants His disciples to free themselves from the logic of “taking away”. If they are demanded to hand over their clothes, they are pleased to hand over their cloaks as well. By this way, Jesus’ disciples made the usurper aware that “taking” would not make them lose or shortage. Instead, they still “have more”, so they can always give unconditionally.
Third, force is opposed with service. Roman officers and soldiers have the right to demand the Palestinians to carry their goods for about 1 mile (v.41, compare Simon of Cyrene, Matt. 27:32). That is the right of invaders and soldiers in the conquest land. For Jews, it was an insult and symbol of colonialism. Jesus asked His disciples not to get caught up in the “conqueror vs colonized” way of thinking and mentality. If one sees certain work as a coercion and a symbol of his power, followers of Jesus must do it as service. So, coercion does not need to be rejected or resisted with violence (as the Zealots and Sicari did), but to multiply the service instead.
Fourth, hating is responded by loving unconditionally. From the beginning till today God’s church has often been rejected, hindered, hated and persecuted by various sides. The hatred must be resisted and defeated by unconditional love. First by praying for the enemies that they be forgiven (v.44). Then, by continuing to do good, not only for our community, but also for others, including the haters. Loving anyone, even enemies, is the highest benchmark as to whether we have truly become the followers of Christ and true children, who strive to be as perfect as our Father in Heaven (v.48).
(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)
DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER
Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.
Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:
For Evangelization intention:
Listen to the cry of the migrants: May the cry of our brothers and sisters – the migrants, victims of human trafficking crime, be listened, seriously responded and followed up by the concerned parties. We pray…
For Indonesian Churches intention:
The call for consecrated life: May the priests and religious people be able to make their life inspiring and be a testimony to the youth in order for them to be dare to follow the call for becoming priest and having monastic life. We pray…
We present the willingness of the Pastoral servants and lay cadres inside the Diocese to be more fair in their action and be a reflection of Divine Justice. We pray …