Step #1: Lectio / Read
Jesus said to his disciples:
“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.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
Step #2: meditatio / Meditate
Two wrongs don't make a right. Right?
We tell little children this from a young age. But as we get older, sometimes I think we start to believe that it's okay. Now that we're older and wiser, we don't see ourselves as being childish. No, we're justified in our actions, right? Yeah, that's it. Justice.
"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is one of the oldest laws in the world. It's known as the Lex Talionis, and it first appeared in the Code of Hammurabi over 2,000 years before Jesus. It later found its way into the Old Testament and the early Jewish understanding of morality and God's law. It sounds pretty harsh, but originally it was a great step towards mercy. Back in the day -- like waaaay back in the day -- humanity was grouped into tribes. Let's say a guy from the one tribe hurt someone from another tribe. The second tribe would wreak vengeance on the first tribe by attacking them and trying to put them all to death.
That escalated quickly.
So the Lex Talionis was an attempt to limit revenge. It's point was that the severity punishment should match the offense. Today Jesus takes it a step further. Several times over He insists that we should return offenses with kindness. This is not to be mistaken for the belief of pacifism, which says that violence under any circumstance is totally unjustifiable. Jesus is also not saying we're not allowed to reasonably defend ourselves when we're being bullied or abused.
So what is He saying?
Love. Our response should always be love. It's one thing to justifiably defend yourself. It's another to take revenge. Two wrongs still don't make a right. That's because no matter what terrible things someone has done to others, they are still a child of God. He still loves them and offers them His mercy. So when we seek revenge, we are seeking to hurt one of His beloved children whom He loves unconditionally.
Let's resolve to put a stop to drama, gossip, violence and abuse. When we respond to offenses with humility, patience and love, we become living channels of God's grace to others. You'd be surprised what an act of love in the face of conflict can do to turn hearts to the Lord.
After all, isn't that what Jesus did for us?
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil."
Father, how do I usually respond when I am hurt by others? Why?
Jesus, I offer You all the pain and sorrow others have caused me.
Lord, help me not only to forgive those who hurt me, but to love them in return.
Holy Spirit, fill me with Yourself so that I would have the courage and humility to love, especially when it's most difficult.
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Jesus, fill me with your love and mercy."
"Lord, help me to love."
"Lord, make me a channel of Your grace."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Pay attention to how you respond to others when they hurt you, even in the little ways. Resolve to return their offenses with love.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.