Gospel Meditation

“Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Today Jesus continues the powerful teaching of his Sermon on the Mount. Typical of this famous sermon, here he urges us to see things in a new way, specifically regarding situations and people who bother us. First, he tells us not to seek revenge. Instead, we are to demonstrate incredible generosity. Then, he instructs us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

These instructions don’t come naturally to most of us. We are much more inclined to want to get even with those who cause us to suffer, and to wish ill for those who have hurt us. But Jesus proposes another way.

In truth, what good does it do to seek revenge or foster hate? It only continues the cycle of evil. Jesus encourages behavior that will stop the cycle short. He gives us a model that—although it may not change the heart of our “enemies”—will nonetheless change our hearts for the better. When pressed into service for one mile, if we voluntarily go two, then we are the ones whose attitude and experience is certain to change. Instead of spending the length of that one mile cursing and complaining, we spend the length of two enjoying a surprising kind of freedom: “I chose to do this,” instead of “I am being forced to do this.”

When we practice the generosity of giving more than we are asked, and the charity of praying for those who persecute us, we will find ourselves in a position to transcend the trouble. It sets us free to not be mastered by the evil around us. Thus, we are able to help end the cycle of evil and begin a new cycle of love and peace.