You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist/retaliate the evil (person) (μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ). If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Mt 5: 38-39)

Yikes! What a difficult passage! I mean, are we just to let ourselves be slapped around, if we are, for example, victims of domestic violence? But let me note what the Lord is forbidding us to do here, and what He is not forbidding us to do.

He is forbidding us, in a private confrontation with a human “evil-doer,“ to “resist/retaliate“ (against) this human being, by “evil-doing“ the same thing ourselves, because He wants to protect us, when we are victimized, from turning into our oppressors. But He is not forbidding us from seeking to heal destructive “evil-doing“ by constructive “good-doing,“ for example, by being “wise as serpents and pure as doves“ (Mt 10: 16). This may include using healing, good words, and/or appealing for justice to the legitimate, civil authorities appointed by God. Our Lord Himself, when He was slapped in the face at His trial before the High Priest, used His divinely-reasonable words, saying to the guy who had slapped Him, “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (Jn 18: 23) Note also that St. Paul defended himself vehemently and repeatedly before his civil authorities (Acts 24-26).

Today let me not think along the lines of, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Let me not join the evil-doer, if I am confronted with his or her evil-doing against me. Let me rather stay extra-close to God and His wisdom, and let Him have His way, – His cross-carrying, life-bringing way, – pave the road through and out of my confrontations with any people that happen to be afflicted with the burdens of evil-doing. Lord, ”forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” and “deliver us from the evil one.” Amen!

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