How can I even
consider these things?
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 as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles.
Prime Bishop Anthony, writing in God’s Field, discusses the Pre-Lenten season. He says:
“If we examine the Gospel of these three Pre-Lenten Sundays we will see that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is asking us to search beyond the normal rules of right and wrong. He asks us to go beyond even our actions to examine our motivations.”
He goes on to say:
“During the Pre-Lenten season the Church calls us to consider these words of our Lord and through them to examine our lives and our motivation. And especially we are called to take a deeper and deeper look into all things that we do as Christians and as members of Christ’ s Church. We must measure ourselves, not only by a few commandments, but on the whole Gospel of love, which has been given to us by Jesus Christ.”
Over these Sunday’s we are asked the impossible. We are challenged at the deepest possible level. Why do we do what we do?
Often times we live off instinct. It could be as simple as driving to work, to the store, or to church. We go on autopilot. The lights, the traffic, the streets, even the potholes are known to us. Sometimes we arrive and we don’t even remember how we got there.
This can happen in other areas of our life, even in prayer and charity. In prayer we recite the words. In charity we put the same amount in the envelope. Jesus is calling us to do something far more serious – to live beyond rote and instinct.
Author Jodi Picoult in her book Mercy says: “If God wanted us to act on instinct, we wouldn’t have the power of reason.”
This Pre-Lent we are called to live consciously. It is not just consideration of the words we pray or how often we pray – but asking ourselves – Why do I pray? It is not just thoughts of how often or how much I give – But why do I give at all? Jesus is giving us a deep and serious challenge. Are we “perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect?”
Every moment of our lives is to be carried out with consideration. If instinct tells us to do the usual and respond to evils in the usual way, stop and do the unusual: consider whether our reaction, our habits, reflect life in Christ. Every action, thought, and response, every routine, must be one with God’s way. We must consider, think and act to make God’s perfection apparent in every part of our lives.