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Proud to Be Catholic
Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us these wise words to contemplate today. Please help me to live by them.
- Turning the Other Cheek: We are called to turn the other cheek. We are not called to turn a blind eye. Out of context, this Gospel passage seems passive. Wouldn’t evil run rampant if Catholics simply and passively turn the other cheek? “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). The Church has never been passive. While we forgive those who do ill, we strive to overcome social ills. Jesus asked us not only to hand over our tunic and cloak, but also to go the extra mile. Since he founded the Church, Catholics have been going the extra mile to spread the kingdom far and wide.
- Proud to Be Catholic: It’s beautiful to remember all the Church has given the world as we go the extra mile. Catholics founded the first schools for the poor. The Church created the first universities. The Romans had barely stopped persecuting Christians when the council of Nicea asked bishops to build hospitals in every cathedral town. Today, the Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental health care provider, providing 26% of the world’s healthcare facilities through 5,500 hospitals, 3,500 of which are in developing countries, and 18,000 clinics. We are the largest education providers worldwide, with 92,000 primary schools, 43,000 secondary schools, and 1,800 Catholic universities worldwide. While we ourselves have sins that need to be forgiven, simple facts like these can make us proud to be Catholic. Even if we turn the other cheek, we can hold our heads high.
- Going the Extra Mile: Few of us will lead hospitals or universities. Yet each of us, in our own way, are carrying out the same mission. We see sin, but instead of retaliating, we forgive those who have failed. Sin is the enemy, not our brother or sister. And when we seek to overcome the causes of that sin, we are giving not just what we must, but giving from love. Each of us has a different “extra mile” to give. Sometimes just not hating is the biggest sacrifice. Sometimes sharing our joy is what we give. Sometimes serving through word, deed, or gifts is how we put Jesus Christ’s words into action.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to look at the sins I struggle to forgive. Please give me the grace to forgive the sinners who committed them. Show me how to serve and give more than I’m comfortable giving. As Mother Teresa said, “This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.” Help me to offer mercy to sinners, to turn the other cheek. Yet, also help me to go the extra mile to forgive and serve those whom you place in my path.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will go the extra mile when the opportunity presents itself.
For Further Reflection: About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter (St. Joan of Arc).
Father Simon Cleary, LC, is the chaplain at Mano Amiga Academy in the Philippines. The school provides underprivileged children programs that promote values formation, skills and health development, and other services tailored to the needs of the community. Visit www.manoamigaph.org to learn more.