Jezebel was one of the most wicked women in all of Scripture. She may well hold the top spot. Why? Read today’s first reading from 1 Kings 21 and you’ll find out. She was a master of deception; a real black-hearted beast of a human being. (Trivia nugget: she’s actually mentioned in a song by Rod Stewart. Can you name it?)
We’re back in the Sermon on the Mount for our Gospel reading today from Matthew 5. Today we hear Jesus’ famous admonition to turn the other cheek. “If someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” This saying of Jesus has been the source of much debate down through the ages. Pacifists will point to this particular verse to bolster their assertion that Jesus was a pacifist and expected all of His disciples to do or be the same. Others don’t take things quite that far.
The Church has always asserted that a person has the right to defend themself from physical attack. Just as it is right and just to defend another from attack, so it is right and just to defend oneself. So what of this saying of Jesus? Well, I’ll leave the full exegesis up to professional theologians. But I think this takes on a very broad context. It certainly isn’t relegated to just the physical. But what about when others gossip about us, or speak ill of us. Jesus words remind me that I have to let that stuff go. That retaliation is fruitless. We must always try to answer bitterness with love.
Father, teach us to turn the other cheek; to stop retaliating for every little wrong done to us. Help us to answer violence with love. Amen.