The ancient law of ‘An eye for an eye’ seems brutal to us. It was a harsh law for a harsh time; a law that put a limit on vengeance, so that violence did not escalate out of control. Jesus calls his disciples to a higher standard: to resist violence and injustice without resorting to violence themselves. Modern movements for civil rights and justice show us the power of non-violent resistance, but it can be a difficult and costly road to follow.
The Law required the people of Israel to love their neighbours, but was often interpreted as imposing no obligation to love sinners or enemies. Jesus, again, calls his disciples to do more; to love the enemy and pray for the persecutor, following the example of God our Father, who loves all those he has created. Such a radical vision may seem impossible, even foolish. This is not the wisdom of the world, but a wisdom that changes the world.