Reflecting on Matthew 5:38-48
Oh, boy. We’ve reached that most difficult section of the Sermon on the Mount, and just in time for Lent. What a rich fast that would be, to really meditate on this text, and then live it for forty days. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.
I know I’ve written about this before, but it always comes to me when we read this section from Matthew 5. I once received a horribly nasty note on my windshield from the neighbor whose house I’d parked in front of over the course of eight years, threatening me if I parked there again.
I was stunned and hurt. But, taking a cue from my radically peace-filled roommate, I baked some cookies and brought them to him the next day. When he answered the door I immediately understood what had happened. He had casts on his arms and legs, the result of a bad car accident. My car was impeding his ability to get into his house.
I looked at him, and he looked at me, and together we both said, “I’m sorry!” And that began in me a practice of radical peace-making, especially in traffic. I once followed a woman through a parking lot and into a coffee shop, to apologize for cutting her off a block earlier. Try this! Instead of being on the defensive, go on the offensive! Be the first to apologize, and the last to take offense at others’ mistakes.
As Fr. Gerhard Lohfink wrote in Between Heaven and Earth: New Explorations of Great Biblical Texts, “it is always better to be a victim than a violent victor.”
How will you practice radical peacemaking this Lent?
Kathy McGovern ©2023