Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor of the Church
(I Kings 21:1-16; Matthew 5:38-42)
Very recently in the United States police brutality has been given notoriety. Excessive use of force even to the point of killing suspected criminals has been exposed in the press. To the extent that such cases are verified, they are rightly publicized and condemned. In today’s first reading a case of abusive state authority is presented. The gospel reading may cause wonder of what to do about it.
Jezebel relieves her pouting husband of frustration by using state authority to murder his nemesis. The crime calls to heaven for redress. In the gospel is Jesus demanding toleration of such outrage? By saying, “’…offer no resistance to one who is evil,’” Jesus is announcing the end of retribution among his followers. He is instructing them to become as patient with evildoers as their Father in heaven.
However, Jesus does not want us to abandon claims for justice. We are to walk toward him with our paths enlightened by his love. Yet the ground we trod is mired in violence from which we must be protected. Jesus is not forbidding us from taking up this task. But he is insisting that we do so with genuine care for our persecutors.