What ran through your heart and mind when wounded by someone close to you? If someone were to hurt you deeply, scar you even… could you turn the other cheek? In fact, what does that even mean? Today’s popular culture, many would attest the meaning of “turn the other one to him as well,” as meaning that we are to fall into submission of the enemy.
In the following posts I explore biblical truths and what that means for us as individuals. The main goal today focuses on learning from the bible and other sources about the actions needed to be taken when wounded. Whether it’s the desire to retailiate or runaway there are answers, which need to be explored. The last thing you need during this time is for an individual telling you, “turn the other cheek” without understanding fully what Jesus meant.
What the Bible Revealed
Recently, I experienced a heartbreaking situation, which thankfully God, my husbnd, family, and a wonderful Catholic friend helped me through. It has caused me to wonder what role I must play when characters are intent on causing you pain. After searching the cathechism and turning to the original source, the NAB bible, I read the notes attached to Matthew 5: 39-42.
After careful searching, I concluded the verse meant to teach others not to stoop to the level of anyone who considers us an enemy. We must rise above these injustices and show the type of class and dignity we have over those who wish to hurt us.
The Old Testament Commandment was meant to modertate vengeance, the punishment should not exceed the injury done. Jesus forbids even this proportionate retaliation. Of the five examples that follow, only the first deals directly with retaliation for evil; the others speak of liberality.
-Notes from the NAB edition
Which leads to the idea of justice and how it fits into the overall picture. Thankfully the Cathechism brilliantly details what true justice is and how it fits into the overarching theme of love and honoring God.
Justice towards men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regards to persons and to the common good.
What Does This All Mean?
Therefore, God is not asking you to simply lie down and be beaten in an effort to love your neighbor. Jesus stated we have a duty to behave better than those who wish to harm us. We must rise and be imitators of Christ. However, that does not mean we are to ignore laws or walk away when the just action is to take positive action.
To heal our broken hearts we must trust in God’s wisdom and his love. Jesus asks us to take the higher road as that is the way to Heaven. He never once asked us to take on a task we could not reach. His teachings on retaliation meant for us to not respond in kind. If they hurt you with venom, you respond with an offering of honey. Those verses protect us from continuing the cycle of hate with Jesus’ insight into retaliation.
An Important Sidenote
Verses on retaliation were also not a blanket approval to continue to be victimized by those whose very natures are abusive. This is not the verse for a woman who lives with an abusive and violent husband or Christians brutalized in war torn Middle Eastern regions. They are called not to enact violence, but to defend themselves, for they are seeking justice, which many people do not understand.
Do not conclude a random commenter on social media speaking of the bible ills is well informed of the passage’s intent. That is akin to me plucking a line from a random Tupac song discussing premarital sex, declaring all his talent to be meaningless without havng any familiarity with the breadth and scope of his work.
Anyone can find a line from the bible and state that is all it truly means. However, this is why the bible requires reflection and analysis. (The same way any serious connoisseur of music would treat Tupac’s work.) When we are in mass we must reflect on all the readings and what the priest wishes to let us know. The bible, cathechism, and various theological experts who graze through the murky words wishing to find clarity blessed us with their knowledge. I urge you to use those resources at your disposal.
Understanding the bible’s true meaning does not necessarily require a theological background, but it does mean you must put in a bit of groundwork yourself.
In next week’s entry, I will be telling you what to do with those who have sought to cause you harm. We have the background knowledge, now we need to know how to implement this knowledge.