Needless to say, the Lord and I had a bit of a conversation over today's Gospel. "Offer no resistance to one who is evil...turn the other cheek."
"Wait a minute, Jesus," I said to him. "That sounds an awful lot like enabling an already bad situation. Isn't that the same as acquiescing to evil, facilitating it, cooperating with it? Doesn't it let the wrong just entrench itself further?"
"You're not getting it, are you?" Jesus observed. "I don't mean 'give in' with a cowering, servile attitude. That only allows the evil to remain as a slow, simmering threat, and the fear of what might happen ends up having more power over the situation than any actual external action at all. You know what that is like, don't you?"
Come to think of it, I do. You know, too: When people do all they can to avoid another person's having an outburst, they hand over their own dignity to one controlling person (who is, more likely than not, "out of control"). A whole culture of fear can take root, and the only options seem to be fight or flight: either fight back, answering threat with threat, or do whatever it takes to avoid further conflict. Either way leaves the out of control person in control. Jesus seems to be saying to face down the threat by standing your ground; to be willing to take the hits--or to call the
Sadly, it can be easy to take this Gospel where Jesus does not intend: into situations of domestic violence. Too many seem to understand this challenge at face value as I did, as if Jesus were telling us to become like doormats and let anyone and everyone walk all over us. Too many people give "one more chance" to a spouse or lover with a vicious, violent streak when the real way of standing their ground would be to leave the situation entirely (getting help to do this).
No matter how you read it, today's Gospel is a scary one. Jesus admits that we can be in tough, even unacceptable situations. Good thing he will be there with us!!!