2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Nothing is surer in life than that it will have its ups and downs, joys, and sorrows, hopes and anxieties. Relationships, work, and health can all provide moments when we must dig deep within ourselves. These moments and experiences shape and define who we are. When Paul is writing to the Corinthians their relationship had been strained by conflict, misunderstanding, and their opposition to his calling out behaviour that was unacceptable in the Christian community. He had been slandered and rejected by some of the household churches and that led him to reflect on how his life as an apostle was often marked by such moments. Despite the emotional and physical risks that were part of his apostolic calling he sought to live with integrity as a disciple of Jesus whatever came his way even when it put his life in danger.
One of Jesus’ most profound and confronting teachings in the Sermon on the Mount concerns how Christians are to deal with moments when we are on the receiving end of violence, injustice and hurt. To react by wanting to pay back evil with evil, and hurt with hurt is the way of the world, but it is not what Jesus calls us to do. What defines us as Christians is the capacity to meet these moments by turning the other cheek and doing our best to stop the cycle of violence by starting with ourselves. Our lives may not be marked by physical violence and danger but each of us has moments when we must choose how we will react to being hurt. There is a saying that hurt people hurt people. Our wounded world can only be healed by walking Jesus’ path of forgiveness and seeking peace. Let’s pray that we can start with ourselves.
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.