I love praying each day’s daily gospel in conjunction with a few helpful spiritual resources. Lately, my favorites are our daily gospel reflections at CatholicMom.com and the quick video excerpts from Pope Francis’ homily from Rome Reports.
Today’s relatively brief gospel passage (Matthew 5:38-42) left me feeling upbeat and positive upon first reading. “I’m doing pretty well at this,” I patted myself on the back. “I’m not someone who bears a lot of grudges and I always try to ‘go the extra mile’ when I can…”
Then I read a fantastic reflection by my fellow Patheos writer Jen Fitz over at CatholicMom.com and watched Pope Francis’ homily for today:
I think I was truly taking this gospel at face value, giving myself a spiritual pass. I think I’m one of the “tame” ones that Jen references in her reflection:
I have heard people – wise, learned, holy people – tame this passage. The tame version is difficult enough: Pray for your enemies, keep an even temper, look for that creative third way to resolve conflicts. If I manage even the domesticated version of this Gospel, that’s a pretty big day for me, spiritually speaking.
But when I read the full version of what she’s reflected upon today, I conclude that I perhaps need to join Jen at “Cheek Turning 101”.
When I consider Jen’s remarks and then take Pope Francis’ homily, which largely builds upon today’s first reading from 1st Kings and it’s whole “Jezebel situation”, and it’s even tougher to give myself a pass.
“If we talk of politically or economically corrupt people, who pays for their corruption? Hospitals without medicine pay, and the patients who don’t get care, the children without education. They are the modern Naboths, who pay the price for the corruption of the powerful. And who pays the price for the corruption of a prelate? The children pay, who cannot make the sign of the cross, those who do not know the catechism, who are not taken care of. The sick who are not visited, the imprisoned, who receive no spiritual attention. The poor pay. Corruption is paid by the poor: the materially poor and the spiritually poor.”
Pope Francis concluded the only way to fight corruption is through service, that purifies the heart.
I find myself asking, “Am I the corrupt prelate?” Am I holy in appearance, yet unwilling to go out of my way to serve a world around me so desperately in need? Because educating our children, caring for our sick, visiting our imprisoned are not acts of love and mercy that can be performed solely by the ordained. Living the truth of Matthew 5 and avoiding acting like a Jezebel is work for all of us in the Body of Christ. And it’s never easy.
So for today, thanks to Jen and Pope Francis, I have my marching orders.
Cheek Turning 101, here I come…