Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(I Kings 21:1-16; Matthew 5:38-42)
In Matthew’s gospel the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin try to call false witnesses against Jesus. Such a treacherous ploy did not originate with them. Nor did it start with Jezebel in today’s first reading. In fact, it is no surprise that it is still being done. In places like Pakistan Christians are sometimes prosecuted for blasphemy on the basis of probably false testimony. But it happens in European societies as well. Cardinal George Pell was accused of sexual abuse of children on the basis of a witness that appears to have testified falsely.
In today’s gospel Jesus seems to say that such evil should not be resisted. Can a moral person accept this teaching? What is going on here? One bishop comments that it is “a very difficult teaching” that must be weighed against biblical injunctions to care for the innocent. He suggests that the just person ask, “What does the evil-doer really need?”
So what are we to do? Do we follow Jesus’ literal command to endure evil? Or do we try to suppress it with force if necessary? Perhaps we must defend others who are threatened by evil, but we should not try to defend ourselves? We might ask the help of others to assure our rights. Obviously we need to pray for enlightenment and strength when confronted by evil.