Vengeance Must No Longer Be Ours
“You put one of ours in the hospital, we’ll put two of yours in the morgue!” ~ Jim Malone / “The Untouchables”
As human beings it’s etched ever so deeply into the very fabric of our DNA. And make no mistake, it’s all around us. Hollywood has reaped untold millions from our desire for vengeance, if even only to watch someone exact this revenge on someone else from the confines of our theatre chair with $17 ticket stub snugly in pocket and Jujyfruits firmly in hand, although I’m a Dots guy myself. Did Charles Bronson ever make a movie that didn’t hinge on “getting even” in the most brutal and violent way? Not to pick on Charles; I liked him in the Twilight Zone.
My college basketball coach, in an effort to motivate us after a prior loss to one of our conference rivals, usually by 20 or 30 points, would chide us in the locker room moments before the rematch with the words “DON’T FORGET... PAYBACKS ARE A (insert obscenity)!!” perhaps in the hopes that we would lose by only 10 or 15 points the second time around. it seldom happened. We were terrible.
And then along comes Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:38-42) just in time to flip the script and urge His followers to break this unending chain of wrath, violence and vengeance. In perhaps the most referenced (oftentimes incorrectly) Biblical Passages of them all, He has this to say about revenge.
“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.”
The one man whose revenge would’ve been more destructive than every act of revenge ever perpetrated in the history of mankind combined was the man who broke the chain and peacefully accepted His fate, dying on a cross for the sins of everyone but his own and his mother’s.
Now there’s a Hollywood script that’s tough to top