“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In our Gospel today, Jesus makes the very famously stark comparison between the seemingly merciless application of the Law of Moses and the fulfillment of the same by Jesus himself, the new lawgiver. “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” The old ways always kept score and made sure that revenge was the way we people ought to act. But there was, and is, a terrible problem with that. It makes no allowances for the saving mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the strict justice to be paid by each one of us for our own sins. “For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you; the arrogant may not stand in your sight.” There is a “new game in town” and it has everything to do with forgiveness and mercy which always outweighs the painful curse that has been infected by our humanity.
“A lamp to my feet is your word, a light to my path.” The Word Made Flesh, Jesus the Christ redeems this fallen world with his sacrifice on the cross and we are the primary beneficiaries of such a loving act. If he has shown mercy and forgiveness to all of us, then who are we to deny to others, who in fact might deserve much more than they deserve for treachery in this life. But there is operative phrase, in this life. We let God handle the wages that justice demands while we show and live in the ocean of mercy that he has created for us. Anything else will simply not work.
“If the Spirit, Who is Life, exacted an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth, this world would indeed be peopled with the blind and the toothless.” (Henry Powell Spring)