Jesus makes it possible for Christians to “turn the other cheek” because they have received “all” from him, making slights, insults and even good things “nothing,” Pope Francis said.
He delivered his comments in his June 17 homily on Matthew 5:38-42, where Jesus tells his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 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.”
Pope Francis said that Christians should pray that, “when we are confronted with the choice of the slap, the coat, the 100 kilometers, we must pray the Lord to ‘open up our heart’ so that ‘we are benevolent and meek.’ We must pray so that we do not fight for small things, for the ‘nothings’ of daily life.”
“A true Christian,” he remarked, “knows how to solve this bi-polar opposition, this tension that exists between ‘all’ and ‘nothing,’ just as Jesus has taught us: ‘First search for God’s Kingdom and its justice, the rest comes afterwards.’”
The Pope then reflected on the kind of righteousness that Jesus brings, which is “totally different from ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’”
Jesus’ justice is explained by St. Paul, the Holy Father said, pointing to his description of Christians as “people who have nothing in themselves but possess all things in Christ.”
“So, Christian security is exactly this ‘all’ that is in Christ. ‘All’ is Jesus Christ. Other things are ‘nothing’ for a Christian,” he added.“This is the secret of Christian benevolence that always goes together with meekness,” Pope Francis emphasized.
“A Christian is a person who opens up his or her heart with this spirit of benevolence, because he or she has ‘all’: Jesus Christ. The other things are ‘nothing.’
“Some are good, they have a purpose, but in the moment of choice he or she always chooses ‘all,’ with that meekness, that Christian meekness that is the sign of Jesus’ disciples: meekness and benevolence,” the Pope said.
He also pointed out that living “like this is not easy, because you really do receive slaps! And on both cheeks!”
The Holy Father also commented on times when Christians and the Church make errors, saying, “all our errors stem from when we say ‘nothing’ is ‘all,’ and to ‘all’ we say it does not count.”
Pope Francis even linked this mentality and disposition to war.
“When one takes on an option for ‘nothing,’ it is from that option that conflicts arise in families, in friendships, between friends, in society. Conflicts that end in war: for ‘nothing!’ ‘Nothing’ is always the seed of wars, because it is the seed of selfishness,” he said.
“Following Jesus is not easy,” the Pope concluded, “but it’s not difficult either, because on the path of love the Lord does things in such a way that we can go forward; it is the Lord himself who opens up our heart.”
Cardinal Attilio Nicora concelebrated the Mass with the Pope in St. Martha’s House and was accompanied by people from the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority. Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, who is in Rome to take possession of his titular parish, was also present at the celebration.