“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What pops out at you in this text? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?
When you think about turning the other cheek or going the extra mile or giving up all your clothes (and when you remember that is about resistance, showing the ridiculousness of the oppressive system), what modern equivalents come to mind? What does it mean in our 21st century America to turn the other cheek, to give your cloak (and so stand naked in the courtroom), to go the second mile?
It has been said (by Dr. Cornel West) that “justice is what love looks like in public.” What does that mean to you, especially in light of this command to love your enemies?
What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?