September 9, 2021
Thursday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
Saint Peter Claver, Priest—USA Memorial
To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Luke 6:29–30
This must have been shocking to Jesus’ first disciples. First of all, recall that Jesus taught these words with a spiritual authority that left those with an open heart with a conviction that what Jesus taught was truth. Also recall that Jesus taught these deep spiritual lessons within the context of performing numerous miracles. So, for these reasons, His new followers would have known that what Jesus taught was true. But how could they fully accept such teachings?
Though many commentators will try to point to the deeper spiritual principles that Jesus was teaching, try to first take His words on face value. He really said that you must offer the other cheek to someone who strikes you, to give your tunic to one who steals your cloak, and to give to everyone who asks of you, never demanding back that which someone takes from you. These are not easy lessons to accept!
One thing that these powerful lessons teach us is that there is something far more important in life than the humiliation of being struck on the cheek and having your possessions stolen. What is that more important thing? It’s the salvation of souls.
If we were to go through life demanding earthly justice and retribution for wrongs received, we would not be able to focus upon that which is most important. We would not be able to focus upon the salvation of those who have wronged us. It’s easy to love those who are kind to us. But our love must extend to everyone, and sometimes the form of love we must offer another is the free acceptance of injustices they commit against us. There is great power in this act of love. But we will only be able to love another this way if our deep desire is for their eternal salvation. If all we want is earthly justice and satisfaction for wrongs committed, we may achieve that. But it may come at the expense of their salvation.
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that every wrong must be righted here and now. But that’s clearly not what Jesus taught. His wisdom is so much deeper. He knew that a profound act of mercy and forgiveness to another, especially when they have hurt us deeply, is one of the greatest gifts we can give. And it’s one of the most transformative actions we can also do for our own souls. When love hurts, in the sense that it costs us our earthly pride, especially by completely letting go of injustice, then our act of love for that person has great power to change them. And if that act changes them, then this will be the cause of your joy for eternity.
Reflect, today, upon any way that this hard teaching of Jesus is difficult for you. Who comes to mind as you ponder this teaching? Do your passions revolt against this command of love from Jesus? If so, then you have discovered the specific area where God wants you to grow. Think about anyone with whom you have a grievance and ponder whether you desire their eternal salvation. Know that God can use you for this mission of love if you will love in the way our Lord commands.
My merciful Lord, Your love is beyond my own ability to comprehend. Your love is absolute and always seeks the good of the other. Give me grace, dear Lord, to love with Your heart and to forgive to the extent that You have forgiven. Use me, especially, to be an instrument of salvation and mercy to those who need it most in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.
Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time
Saint of the Day – Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Featured image above: Sermon on the Mount by I.Makarov, via Wikimedia Commons
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Ordinary Time: September 1–November 27, 2021
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