Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:33-48
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply Yes’ or No’; anything more than this comes from the Evil One.
38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
An eye for an eye: Jesus forbids the misuse of Mosaic civil law to justify private vengeance. Exodus 21:24 was meant to limit retribution; it was never an invitation to inflict punishment for personal injuries or extend personal vengeance beyond the injury suffered (cf. Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21). The punishment had to fit the crime but not exceed it. Jesus eliminates such a policy of retaliation from personal life (cf. Rom 12:17).
You . . . must be perfect: Jesus advocates moral righteousness higher than the Old Covenantit is a standard of mercy. Just as Israel was to imitate God in being “holy” (Lev 19:2), so Jesus calls the Church to imitate God’s perfect compassion (Lk 6:36). The Father is kind and merciful to the good and evil alike, so his children must extend mercy even to their enemies (5:7; Lk 10:29-37; Jas 2:13). See note on Lk 6:36 (CCC 1968, 2842).