The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Monday of the 11th Week of Ordinary Time is Matt 5:38-42.

Christ continues with His powerful declaration of the New Covenant in the Sermon on the Mount, calling His disciples to a new way of self giving, even in the face of evil and injustice. Christ refers to the Old Covenant law of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exod 21:24) which did not call for vengeance, but sought to limit legal retribution to equal action. Like the other examples from the Old Covenant in Matthew 5 that sought to control outward acts to keep social peace (e.g. 10 Commandment prohibitions for murder, adultery), Christ commands His disciples to a new standard of inner holiness.

Shockingly, Christ commands His disciples to “offer no resistance to one who is evil”, using particularly humiliating and extreme examples to make His point.  To receive a strike on the right cheek, the attacker used a backhand slap with the right hand (considered particularly insulting) or an open hand slap with the left hand (highly insulting, for the left hand was the “bathroom” hand).  But Christ says to “turn the other cheek.”

Christ commands men to willingly offer one’s cloak (outer garment) when a man sued for  one’s tunic (an inner garment). This too is shocking for it overturns Jewish law which allowed a man to stay warm (Exod 22:25-27) but would also result in a man being left naked. “Going the extra mile” allowed occupying Roman soldiers to make Jews carry things for up to a mile; this teaching was particularly revolting to Jews who hated the domination and coercion of the Roman occupation.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Teacher, Christ uses elegant and shocking examples, which are still repeated 2000 years later (e.g. “turn the other cheek”) to help men grasp His commands. Courageous, Christ is undeterred in His new commandments which drew rejection and ridicule. Divine King, Christ authoritatively asserts a new standard of peace for His Kingdom which overrides both men’s desire for retributive justice and man’s legal systems.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Understood in context, the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ are shocking because they overturn thousand year-old rules and even men’s standards for “justice” today.  Reflect on Christ’s genius and courage in issuing His world-changing commandments.

2) Man’s natural urge to retaliate and do violence is perpetuated in the smashmouth modern culture and is fueled by anger; physical violence, verbal abuse, anonymous attacks on the internet, etc. Reflect on the 5th Commandment and the call to Safeguard Peace (CCC 2302-2306) and pray for Christ to help you obey His commandment to “turn the other cheek.”

3) Going beyond “turning the other cheek” against evil attacks, Christ calls on His disciples to give to those who beg or seek to borrow. Return again to Christ’s Love of the Poor (CCC 2443-2449) and pray for Christ to help you to give generously to those in need.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant