TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK
The movie 42 tells the story of a baseball player, Jackie Robinson. He was the first black athlete to play in the Major League Baseball (MLB). Since 1880s, black athletes were barred from MLB. In 1940s, Robinson was recruited to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But the owner advised him to withstand racial abuse he would surely encounter inside and outside his team. He was challenged not to fight or confront but use non-violence.
He should have the guts not to retaliate and be able to turn the other cheek. He should focus on winning baseball not on reacting or fighting. People should remember him as a gentleman and a great baseball player. Though difficult, this he did! During his ten seasons, the Dodgers played six World Series with his help. He is the first black athlete to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
In today’s gospel (Lk 6:27-38), Jesus proposes non-violence to his followers. He commanded: love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pay for those who maltreat you! This command is difficult; yet doable. To make it happen, we need tons of motivation to have the courage not to fight back and turn the other cheek.
The follower of Christ ought to have these three qualities:
1. Peaceful. He is not violent nor aggressive. Not fighting back is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it shows a person in control of himself. Jesus wants us to act out of love and gentleness. Our action is not ruled by anger, pride or instinct. A peaceful person has self-mastery over his emotions.
2. Patience. Love is patient. Jesus wants his followers to be kind. A patient man is able to see the bigger picture. His revenge is to bless and to pray. He is willing to accept the other knowing that every person is still a work in progress.
3. Pro-active. Jesus’ follower is not reactive but proactive. He is rational and self-controlled.
One might say these virtues can only be implemented in the ideal world. Yet it is possible because even Jackie Robinson was able to practice it. All the more we need to learn them from our Master, Jesus Christ.