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#TomorrowIsSunday | What instead of the principle of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”?

Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik / 18.02.2023
Statue of Jesus (Trastavere-Rome), Photo Credit Sr Amata CSFN
Statue of Jesus (Trastavere-Rome), Photo Credit Sr Amata CSFN

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Year A

19 February 2023

Gospel: Mt 5:38-48 >>>


You can download the commentary on the Gospel and beautiful photos >>>

1. A word of introduction

The Gospel for this Sunday is a continuation of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, called the constitution of Christians. Referring to circulating misconceptions, Jesus shows us the way to true Christian perfection.



You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Talion principle: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” is indeed found in the Old Testament, in Leviticus (24:17-21). It was intended for judges to prevent the infliction of too severe punishments. However, at the time of Jesus, it was commonly interpreted as the right of every person to take personal revenge and retaliate.

Good deeds cannot come from a heart in which there is hatred and a desire for revenge. This is why Jesus encourages people to choose love and forgiveness. Patient and forgiving love is much more powerful than quarreling and aggression. Only such love can break the spiral of evil and bring reconciliation and peace.

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.

The Mosaic Law commanded to love one’s neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). However, nowhere in the Old Testament do we find God’s commandment to hate the enemy. Some teachers in Jesus’ time added the obligation to hate one’s enemy.

Jesus reminds us that all people are our neighbors, including our enemies. He understood that there might be unfriendly, difficult, hostile people around us. Yet, he wants us to be guided by a desire to do good for everyone, and to love our neighbor. The commandment of love is the Christians’ most powerful weapon. Praying for those who harass us, persecute us, and do evil, can also help us achieve the freedom of heart to love our neighbors.


3. Today

Jesus has shown us his love, mercy, and forgiveness. He warns us not to hold on to anger or hatred toward others. What is my attitude toward unfriendly and difficult people? Do I pray for them? Let us ask the Lord for a forgiving and merciful heart, following the example of the Heart of Jesus.


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