A story is told about a man who knocked upon heaven’s door asking to be let in. St. Peter asked him why he thought he should be let in. The man replied: “My hands are clean.” “Yes,” answered the Gatekeeper, “but they are also empty!”
Today’s gospel (Lk 6:27-38) reminds us that it is not enough to avoid evil; we must also make the world better. In the past, others have said: “do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” This concept is the source of basic manners and politeness. But Jesus goes even beyond. He says: “Do to others.” Thus Christian ethics leads us to be a positive influence. Our presence should make the world more beautiful and more loving. The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke rightly wrote: “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Jesus challenges us to be a part of the force of goodness in the world. The gospel passage contains four commands from Jesus: love, forgive, do good and pray. They are guidelines of a moral principle that goes beyond the minimum requirement. It is an invitation to offer the other cheek to the one who strikes you or to bless those who curse you. It is acting out the love we have in our hearts.
It might seem to be a form of weakness. In reality, there is so much strength and bravery in forgiving rather than retaliating. In the end, Jesus challenges us to be like him in our willingness to endure unjust suffering for his own sake. Jesus wants us to take up our crosses daily and embrace our day-to-day sacrifices in his name.