Prayer for peace

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 5, 38-42

'You have heard how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.

But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well;

if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

And if anyone requires you to go one mile, go two miles with him.

Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We continue reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which he contrasts the old law with his Gospel. In the context of opposing the two laws, Jesus begins with that of the Old Testament: “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and he opposes it with the law of love: “But I say to you … if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Jesus makes the difference between the two attitudes very clear. The law of an eye for an eye had its place and its logic because it wanted to regulate an all-too-often unending cycle of implacable vengeance. It was an attempt to remove every abuse, instead of uprooting hatred. With his teaching Jesus goes a lot deeper: he wants to destroy the inherent roots of vengeance and stop the vicious cycle of violence. Evil in fact maintains its strength even if it regulated according to the law of an eye for an eye. Jesus says that evil cannot be governed, it should be eradicated. This is the only way to destroy it. The only effective way is that proposed by Jesus: a super-abundant love. Evil cannot be overcome by evil, even if legal, but by a more generous good. With these statements, Jesus turned the mentality of his time (that in fact is largely prevalent even today) upside down and asks the disciples not only to banish vengeance from their behaviour but even to turn the other cheek to the one who slapped them. This is obviously not about proposing a new law—that of “turning the other cheek”—as some would say to mock these words. Even less is Jesus trying to favour a masochistic or submissive attitude toward evil. Nor can we say that Jesus did not oppose evil strongly and profoundly. Jesus is always fighting against sin, injustice, sickness and even against death, the most extreme manifestation of evil. What Jesus came to bring to men and women was a new way of life centred on love. His commitment to liberate men and women from the slavery of evil is the very reason of his incarnation. This is why he is decisively opposed to evil. Instead he seeks to stand by each person, even those possessed by evil, in order to liberate them from its slavery. The struggle against evil is possible only with one kind of weapon: that of love. Those who let themselves be guided by love drive away evil through the abundance of good. If people love, they offer even their coat to the one who asks them; they are ready to accompany someone even twice as many miles as they are asked, and they do not turn their back to the one who asks for help. With love, we chase away evil from the start and we open the way to a dignified life.