The ways of our faith can be so different from the ways of the world. In that way, our Gospel is especially challenging for us today, as it tells us to turn the other cheek when someone hits us and to give the person who tries to steal our cloak another piece of clothing as well. This is so different from the code of vengeance and revenge in which many in our society operate today. We all called to forgive and to show mercy as followers of Christ, rather than to judge and condemn others.
John Chrysostom is one of the saints we celebrate this week. He was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the late 4th and early 5th century, and he is one of the revered Doctors of the Church. He was known as one of the greatest preachers in the early Church. Here is one such teaching from his homilies that relates to today’s Gospel, on how to reach out to others and how to have joy in our hearts: “Helping a person in need is good in itself. But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done. If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty, then the person may receive your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed. This is because he will feel beholden to you. If, on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully. The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help, but rather will feel glad to have caused you pleasure by receiving your help. And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.”
May the Lord give us the grace to reach out to our enemies, to forgive, and to foster joy in our hearts.