In today’s Gospel, we hear one of Jesus’ hardest teachings. When we suffer injustice, our instinct is to fight back, even to seek revenge. If we see someone as an enemy, we want to make them suffer. But the Lord calls us to do the opposite: to love our enemies, and to offer no resistance to those who do us violence. It’s an incredibly radical message. We might wonder if it’s even possible to live by such a teaching. But when we look at our world, we see the damage that is done by violence, the will to power and the desire for revenge. Surely someone has to break the cycle, by responding with forgiveness instead of vengeance.
It is impossible to live out this teaching, in human terms. We can only live it by God’s grace. Our example is Jesus himself, who, as he was nailed to the Cross, prayed for his executioners. If we reflect on the mercy and compassion that we ourselves have received from God, perhaps we can learn to show the same compassion to one another.