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Matthew 5: 38 — 48

Ordinary 7     Year A

New American Bible 

 

38     25  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a
         tooth for a tooth.’

39     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.

40    If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him
        your cloak as well.

41     Should anyone press you into service for one mile, 26  go with
         him for two miles.

42     Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on
         one who wants to borrow.

43     27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your
         neighbor and hate your enemy.’

44     But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who
         persecute you,

45     that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes
         his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on
         the just and the unjust.

46     For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you
         have? Do not the tax collectors 28  do the same?

47     And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about
         that? Do not the pagans do the same?   29

48     So be perfect, 30 just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

25 [38-42] See Lev 24:20. The Old Testament commandment was meant to moderate vengeance; the punishment should not exceed the injury done. Jesus forbids even this proportionate retaliation. Of the five examples that follow, only the first deals directly with retaliation for evil; the others speak of liberality.

26 [41] Roman garrisons in Palestine had the right to requisition the property and services of the native population.

27 [43-48] See Lev 19:18. There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy, but the “neighbor” of the love commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman. Both in the Old Testament ( Psalm 139:19-22) and at Qumran (1QS 9:21) hatred of evil persons is assumed to be right. Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy and the persecutor. His disciples, as children of God, must imitate the example of their Father, who grants his gifts of sun and rain to both the good and the bad.

28 [46] Tax collectors: Jews who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs. See the note on Mark 2:14.

29 [47] Jesus’ disciples must not be content with merely usual standards of conduct; see Matthew 5:20 where the verb “surpass” (Greek perisseuo) is cognate with the unusual (perisson) of this verse.

30 [48] Perfect: in the gospels this word occurs only in Matthew, here and in Matthew 19:21. The Lucan parallel (Matthew 6:36) demands that the disciples be merciful.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition (c)
2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington D.C.
and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of
the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in
writing from the copyright owner.

 

 

 

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