Homilette for Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

(II Corinthians 6:1-10; Matthew 5:38-42)

Twenty-five years ago, Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic candidate for vice-president, stated in a televised debate that when someone offends her, she does not get angry, she gets even. Of course, this is not the attitude that Jesus wants us to cultivate. In today’s gospel he tells us explicitly not to offer any resistance to one who does evil.

Jesus’ command is a super-tall order. Many insist with good reason that he is using hyperbolic language. This means that Jesus exaggerates the obligation of his followers in order to move them from the natural disposition of taking revenge. In other words, we do not have to submit completely to the unjust actions of persecutors but we should be forbearing in our response to them.

Forbearance is hardly a virtue of our time. People today either try to get even when they are offended or they sulk in bitterness. Forbearance inclines us to tolerance of others’ faults and a willingness to forgive their offenses against us. In these ways we mirror the Father’s patience with all the world’s sins, including our own.