Getting Slapped — Monday, 11th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

Jesus taught:

“…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.”

Should we always offer no resistance to those who would do evil against us?

Notice that each of the examples Jesus gives are of injustices that do no real lasting harm. If you are slapped on the cheek, it stings awhile, but in a few minutes you’re fine. Even Jesus’ disciples owned spare clothes–we know because He told them to leave their second tunics behind when He sent them two by two. There is no lasting harm until your last tunic or cloak is taken. (cf. Exodus 22:25-26) In those days, Roman soldiers could force Jews to carry their gear for up to a mile down a road. Jesus teaches that one should go the extra mile for these enemies and occupiers.

In each example Jesus gives of offering no resistance to evil-doers, the affliction is felt in one’s pride more than anywhere else. Jesus is teaching us to be humble when people wrong us in small ways, so that they will be struck by our magnanimous patience and strength and be converted.

But what if the evil someone would do to us would do us grave and lasting harm? Should we offer no resistance then? Two incidents for Jesus’ life come to mind. When the money changers and animal sellers were doing business in the temple’s court of the Gentiles, profaning it and impeding the nations’ worship of the One True God, Jesus resisted. He made a whip out of cords and drove out the people who were doing what was evil. On the other hand, in the Passion, Jesus offered no resistence. He let His enemies slap Him, strip Him, and force Him to carry a cross.

It seems that there are times when we are called to resist evils for the sake of the common good, and times when we are called to accept evils, even grave injustices against us, in the pattern Jesus Christ. Let us trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to know when is the time for which.

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