Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – 7th Week in Ordinary Time – Sunday – Cycle A – Matt 5:38-48
Continuing with His powerful declaration of the New Covenant in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ calls for His disciples to a new way of self-giving, even in the face of evil and injustice. Rather than the Old Covenant law of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exod 21:24) which sought to limit legal retribution to equal action, Christ commands His disciples to “offer no resistance to one who is evil”, using particularly humiliating and extreme examples to make His point: accepting a slap to the face was highly insulting; giving up one’s tunic (inner garment) left a man naked; going the extra mile referred to carrying the hated occupying Roman soldier’s pack even father then required by Roman law. Christ commands His disciples to give to the poor.
Rather than the Old Covenant law of loving one’s neighbor and hating one’s enemies, Christ Christ commands His disciples to love everyone. His edict of love has no exceptions even for enemies, including Gentiles, who persecute. Rather than simply not responding to attacks, Christ further requires His disciples not only not to hate one’s persecutors but, even more radical, to pray for them.
Rather than simply issuing new commandments, Christ offers a rationale for why men should take up His call to revolutionary love: God loves all men (sending sun and rain to all) and so sons of God must love likewise; disciples must strive to be more holy than others; disciples must love all men (including Gentiles); disciples must strive for perfection in imitation of the Heavenly Father who is perfection.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of God, Christ asserts the authority to proclaim the New Covenant which requires a revolutionary kind of love. Divine King, Christ commands that His disciples aspire to the highest and most demanding of moral standards, that of unconditional love. Divine Teacher, Christ teaches new and difficult ideas with memorable and impactful terms (“turn the other cheek”; “go the extra mile”, etc.).
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) In opposition to the evil political efforts to divide people into warring factions, Christ calls for Catholic men to reject division. Reflect on the Catechism’s teaching about “Social Justice” (CCC 1928-1948) and pray for Christ to help you respect the human dignity of all people and to grow in solidarity with all others.
3) In an age of vast government programs for the needy, men grow can complacent to responding to the needs of the poor. Taking up Christ’s call to give to the poor (those who beg), review the Church’s teaching on “Love for the Poor” (CCC 2443-2463) and pray for Christ to help you to more fully give to those in need.
Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity
Virtue of the Day – Charity
Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry
Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner