Matthew 5: 38-48
Jesus said to his disciples. You know that you have been taught, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek. If someone sues you for your shirt, give up your coat as well. If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. When people ask you for something, give it to them. When they want to borrow money, lend it to them.
You have heard people say, “Love your neighbours and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven.
How often when Jesus makes statements like these we prefer not to take them seriously. We think Jesus is just making a point – exaggerating for the sake of emphasis. That all he wants is for us to be good. We know when we are being good; taking care of our own; making the best of our talents; taking part in our community. All very good attributes; but no more than we should be doing; no more than anyone else; no more than anyone who didn’t know Jesus; no more than anyone who had not been awakened to God. What we call ‘being good’ is the desired human condition.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be good – he wants us to be better than that – his ambition for us goes beyond all that – he wants us to be ‘perfect’ (a bad translation – more likely meaning mature or adult).
We should not need to be liked to like; we should not need to be loved to love; we should not need our own need to be fulfilled before we recognise that others have needs. In particular it should not matter who the others are because we know who we are – beloved children of God.