Do not pay evil with evil!
Readings: 1st: 1 Kg 21:1-16; Ps: 5; Gos: Mt 5:38-42
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is Monday of the eleventh week of ordinary time. Today, Christ continues to reinterpret the Law, and exhorting us to live an authentic Christian life different from those of the pharisees and scribes.
Today, he reinterprets the law of retaliation: “You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.”
Obviously, this is a tough one. This his interpretation has a lot of nuances. Also, it seems he is asking us not to combat evil in our society.
How do we reconcile this with what James tells us: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)? Even Christ himself, resisted the devil during his temptation in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11).
In all these, we must not forget the context of the speech of Christ. He was addressing the attitude of the Pharisee towards the Law and the people.
The Pharisees tried to attain justice through the strict observance of the Law. They thought that with their own effort alone they could succeed in pleasing God.
However, Christ takes a stand concerning this practice, and announces the new justice which should surpass the justice of the Pharisees.
So, Christ is not saying we should permit the evil one to destroy us. Rather, we should not pay back evil with evil. Paying back evil with evil does not make us different from the evil doer.
Christ reminds us of the possibility and importance of forgiveness, while we allow God himself to be the ultimate judge in all matters.
Hence, Paul reminds us of this: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back, says the Lord.’” (Rom 12:19).
Peace be with you all!