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Sunday, February 23, 2014

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7th Sunday Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13
Matthew 5:38-48

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turn the other cheek

"But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury." —Matthew 5:39

Jesus sounds so naive. Everybody knows we must resist injury. Jesus says that after we've been hit on one cheek, we should turn the other. We'll get killed if we take His advice. However, the Sermon on the Mount is not "advice"; it is the Lord's command. Yet we rationalize that Jesus' message in the Sermon on the Mount is poetic, symbolic, anything but literal.

Sometimes Jesus does not speak literally, as when He said to gouge out our eye (Mt 5:29). So we're tempted to assume the Sermon on the Mount, especially this part of it, must not be literal. However, Jesus did literally turn the other cheek, hand over His garments and walk the extra mile (Mt 5:39-41), even up Mount Calvary to be crucified.

If we deny that the Sermon on the Mount is literal, we may be denying that we must imitate the crucified Christ. Jesus is literally calling us to a radically different lifestyle. Following Jesus is not just a modification of a worldly life but an utterly new way to live.

Will you decide to be a Christian on Jesus' terms — not as other people are, not as you want, but as He wills? Accept the Preacher and the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount.

Prayer:  Jesus, it's impossible to be a Christian without Your constant amazing grace. Pour out the Holy Spirit upon me (Rm 5:5) and give me the grace to receive in docility.

Promise:  "For the wisdom of this world is absurdity with God." —1 Cor 3:19

Praise:  Praise the risen Jesus, the only Way to the Father (Jn 14:6). Alleluia!

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013

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