Pope: Christ’s law of love overcomes law of retaliation

(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis said the day’s Gospel – part of the Sermon on the Mount, from the Gospel of Saint Matthew – is one of the Biblical passages that best expresses the Christian “revolution.”

In the day’s Gospel reading, he said, “Christ shows the path of true justice, through the law of love that overcomes that of retaliation, that is, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.” Jesus, he continued, does not ask His disciples simply to bear evils patiently, but to return good for evil: “Only in this way can the chains of evil be broken, and things can truly change.”

Pope Francis notes that for Jesus, the refusal to return evil for evil goes so far as to sometimes involve giving up a legitimate right: turning the other cheek, or giving up one’s cloak, or making other sacrifices. But, he said, “this renunciation doesn’t mean that the needs of justice should be ignored or contradicted; on the contrary, Christian love, which is manifested in a special way in mercy, represents a superior realization of justice.”

Jesus, the Pope said, wants to teach us the distinction between justice and vengeance: “We are allowed to ask for justice; it is our duty to practice justice. On the other hand, we are forbidden to revenge ourselves or to encourage vengeance in any way, insofar as it is an expression of hatred or of violence.”

In fact, Christ’s law of love calls on us to love even our enemies. This, Pope Francis said, should not be seen as an approval of their wicked actions, but as “an invitation to a higher perspective, like that of the heavenly Father, who makes His sun to rise on the wicked and the good.” Even our enemies, the Pope explained, are human persons, created in the image of God – even if that image is sometimes obscured by evil acts. Christ calls us to respond to our enemies with goodness, inspired by love.

Before leading the traditional Angelus prayer, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary might help us follow “this demanding path” set out by Jesus, “which truly exalts human dignity, and makes us live as children of our Father Who is in heaven.” The Holy Father prayed that Mary might help us to practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and to be artisans of communion and of fraternity in our daily life.”

(from Vatican Radio)

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