Sunday, February 20, 2011

Going the Extra Mile

Today's Gospel (Matthew 5: 38-48) is one of the most challenging. Just when they thought they were getting it, Jesus challenged His disciples to do more.   Jesus says that "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth) is not enough. And it applies to us as well. If we are to be His followers we must do more - turn the other cheek, give the clothes off of your back, go further than you are asked.
Sometimes our idea of fairness can get in the way of being a Christian. Especially here in America, we think that everything should somehow be balanced - you do for me, I do for you. We are so concerned with not being cheated that we forget our focus is on a different ideal. I am always amazed when I hear those who consider themselves to be Christian complaining about people who get more than what they consider fair. We refer to those who are looking for a "handout" as lazy, worthless, milking the system.
The root of this type of thinking is found when we fail to recognize others as brothers and sisters. Now I realize that we cannot expect our government to embrace this ideal, and it is not my intention to get into a debate about social programs. But I do believe that the way we speak about others and the way we respond as individuals to those in need should reflect the teaching of Jesus. And our words are not enough. Jesus told His disciples they had to take action.
This is the reason the Church has traditionally seen helping those in need as integral to our faith. We need to examine not only our attitude but also try and find ways in which we can help others. Whether in a local parish, with a community group or by individual actions, there are so many ways that we can go the extra mile and live out today's gospel. While it may not always be easy, convenient or even rewarding, it is what we are called to do because of who we are called to be. Because loving our sisters and brothers is how we can "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

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