Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional – Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time – Monday – Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus 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.
Jesus 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), Jesus commands His disciples to a new standard of inner holiness.
Shocking, Jesus 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 Jesus says to “turn the other cheek.”
Jesus 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 Christ – Jesus Christ, Divine Teacher, 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. The Divine King, Jesus 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) The current grievance culture excessively manipulates legal systems to win out-sized financial judgments. Reflect on how, if implemented today, Christ’s teachings would dramatically increase peace and reduce excessive lawsuits.
3) Man’s natural urge to retaliate and attack is encouraged in the smashmouth modern culture.; one common example is the vicious anonymous attacks on the internet. Think of several concrete examples of how you can obey Christ’s commandment to “turn the other cheek.”
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