Monday, June 17, 2013

That Extra Mile

Even if St. Paul never read today's Gospel (the written text we have dates after Paul's own writings), he gives a clear example of how the early Christians followed Jesus' command to "turn the other cheek": "When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently" (1 Cor 4: 12-13).

Paul resisting a sarcastic response to
those senseless Galatians.
Yesterday I was reading the maxims of a Serbian Orthodox monk, the Elder Thaddeus. This wise man, steeped in the ancient traditions handed down from the Desert Fathers, observed that if Christians began to live these words of the Sermon on the Mount--starting with their own thoughts, replacing angry thoughts with charitable thoughts; vengeful thoughts with kind--we would undo the work of the Adversary, which is marked by anger and confusion.

For me, the lesson hit home when I stepped into St Peter's for Mass. A couple of the Friars tend to put their own fingerprints all over the liturgy, and it drives me nuts. Today's Gospel challenged me to lighten up. No, those exaggerations and idiosyncrasies do not belong in the liturgy (which is the work of the people), but my own irritation is not exactly godly, either. And if I can "bless...endure...respond gently" (in other words, go that extra mile in bearing the burden imposed on me by the celebrant), I am contributing something positive; being a peacemaker rather than cultivating aggravation in my own heart.

Turning the other cheek, going the extra mile: it starts with our own thoughts. This way of going the extra mile hardly characterizes Internet debate, but maybe it should. Can it start with us? Is this how we transform the world--or our own corner of it?

1 comment:

Woman, Wife, Mom, Daughter and Friend said...

Love this Sister! Typically it is my fellow attendees that bug me, I will take St. Paul's advice for this!