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helping each other discover who God is calling us to be.
The measure of love is love without measure
If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also? If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well? Jesus is making some tough demands here! These kinds of actions are contrary to the actions and thoughts of our very secular world. Why such tough demands from Jesus? Did they get our attention? You bet they did!! Jesus is talking about forgiveness and how to forgive. We forgive with reconciliation. Let’s have a look this way instead! It is a positive action to create the opportunity for the other person to see their wrongdoing and to stop their offensive behavior. This means that the other person has an opportunity to convert to a loving person! Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, even in the continued face of wrongdoing. This means that we would be imitating Jesus, who loved and forgave his enemies.
Over and over God loves us and forgives us, no matter how many times we are unfaithful. Only by acting in this way in our own lives will we be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. We are faced with a world which has become more self-centered, more secular. Forgiveness is the main theme in Matthew’s gospel today. In teaching the disciples how to pray, Jesus says, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But, if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions”. Later on in the Matthew’s gospel, Jesus states that we must forgive seventy times seven. What is most impressive in today’s gospel passage is the command for us to forgive even our enemy.
Do you remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he gave a homily on forgiveness on November 17, 1957? He spoke about the three reasons that are the basis of forgiveness. First, forgiveness alone can stop the cycle that hurt and violence starts. Second, he thought that without forgiveness, the person who has been hurt becomes further distorted and harmed King gives a third reason for forgiveness when he wrote: “now there is a reason I think that Jesus says, ‘love your enemies.’ it is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. There is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. In loving and forgiving our enemies, we become more “God-like” or more “holy” as God is holy.
Why? Because this is the essence of God, who continues to love and forgive us no matter our response. God cannot do otherwise. God continues to love and forgive, just as God continues to make the sun rise and shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Over and over God loves and forgives us, no matter how many times we are unfaithful. Only by acting in this way in our own lives will we be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.