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The good news for the day June 13

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time (365)

Jesus says to his students You have heard people tell you, ‘Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.’ But I am telling you not to retaliate against evil. No—to somebody who slaps you on your right cheek, offer the other one. If anyone wants to sue you for the shirt off your back, let him have your coat too.  Say someone forces you to travel a mile, go along another one. To anyone who asks you for something give it. As for anyone who wants to borrow something, don’t dodge them.” (Matthew 5)

Few of us have the courage, the character or the strength to do this. Our American culture is totally the opposite. Our instincts fight it. From childhood on up, you and I are told to fight back, to oppose bullies on the playground, to defend ourselves. In our culture, in particular, the standard reason for purchasing a gun is self-defense. Stand your ground. That deep thread stitches of our modern, American society together. It is part of you and me, no matter how righteous I might feel, how gutsy.

If in fact, you commit ourselves to the belief Jesus points out—friends—good, decent folks—would accuse you of cowardice and stupidity. Society in general would condemn you. It would take an unbelievable courage, character and strength to act on this belief, to withhold some retaliation.

This aspect of following Jesus cuts across all dimensions—whether it is driving, writing a letter, talking at a party, or hearing news.

The underlying truth to which you are called is mutual service and respect in the Family of God. If a brother, or really good friend, slapped you, you would ask “why/” before you hit back. A slap—as any adult knows—might prove (rarely) to be a needed wake-up call. In comedy shows, you see slaps where one character is trying to get some other person to see his or her own stupidity. You need to dig deep to appreciate that any kind of inflicted harm, insult or demeaning—needs a gentle, humble response.

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