In the ancient Roman Empire, there was a certain legal principle expressing the absolute supremacy of legal norms, according to which legal rules must be strictly observed regardless of their inconvenience and consequences for the obliged party. In a very simple way, the name of this provision is expressed in the maxim dura lex, sed lex – which in Latin means: hard law, but the law. Doesn’t this law seem fair, right to us? Perhaps many believe that this legal standard should still apply? Jesus speaks to us today in the gospel: ” You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” You have heard…, or perhaps this law still reverberates somewhere in your ears…, in your mind…, in your heart? Maybe someone has wronged you and, in your helplessness, in your sense of injustice and ordinary human weakness, you want to retaliate against the person who committed the slander, the verbal abuse.
Perhaps you want to retaliate against the person who disrespected you, who did not take you seriously, who betrayed you. Perhaps it all sounds in your heart and you may not be able to understand and accept the words that Jesus addresses to you today. And I say to you:” I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you: in this way you will be sons of your Father in haven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike.” Perhaps there is even a rebellion in your heart that Jesus requires this of you? Maybe you think it’s not right. Maybe you think it’s downright impossible to live today the way the Gospel wants you to live – the way Jesus wants you to live. Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, a French Dominican, once wrote: “ Do you want to be happy for a while? Have a laugh. Do you want to be happy always? Forgive.”
A dozen years ago the well-known singer lost her only daughter . Eighteen-year-old girl was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. In one of the interviews she gave, we can read: “I have forgiven. In spite of my relatives, my friends. I tried to bring good out of evil. I did not walk away from God because He is not to blame. He is a man who has abused his freedom”. Jesus himself, dying on the cross, intercedes for his persecutors: ” Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Maybe it is hard for you today to imagine being able to forgive someone who has wronged you. Maybe today you are not yet mature enough to do so. Perhaps some more time is needed. The only law Christ demands of us is the law of true love.