Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 18:41-46; Matthew 5:20-26)
Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” explains the meaning of his call to repentance. In the previous chapter of Matthew’s gospel Jesus preaches, “’Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Today’s gospel passage continues to describe what that exhortation entails.
Repentance is more than a public sinner’s changing his ways. It is more than an average person’s not cursing her adversary. It is everyone’s letting go of any animosity felt toward neighbors. Put simply, repentance is a conversion of heart. Jesus challenges his disciples to forsake the desire for revenge when they are offended. He calls them to reject dismissing a person whom they find irritating. Rather they are to seek to know, understand, and to love everyone, especially problematic people.
We all want to be esteemed. When someone offends or ignores us, we naturally feel hurt. We are probably too civil to strike back physically. Rather, we will say hard words about the person. More likely, we will harbor demeaning thoughts about him or her. This is not the way of a follower of Christ. We must repent. If we look deeper into the person than her bravado, we will find a child of God also longing for recognition. As an image of ourselves then, we can understand and love her.