Mass Reading & Meditation for June 17, 2013
Meditation: Matthew 5:38-42
11th Week in Ordinary Time
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. (Matthew 5:38)
In 1972, a meteorologist named Edward Lorenz published a paper on predictability in which he told this story. He was running a computer weather simulation and accidentally entered a variable that differed only slightly from his intended variable. The result was a completely different weather outcome. Lorenz theorized from this outcome that large systems such as weather patterns could be drastically altered by seemingly trivial events. As he put it, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” And so was born the theory known as the Butterfly Effect.
We can apply this principle to Jesus’ teaching today about generosity and forgiveness. Our instinct for revenge is extremely powerful. We find it only natural to take an eye-for-an-eye approach to life. But Jesus tells us to meet hostility with charity instead—not because he wants us to be weak but because he knows that one small act of mercy can have great consequences.
We all know that our negative actions can certainly have unforeseen results. If a man is grumpy to his wife in the morning, she may pass that foul mood on to her colleagues at work all day, who may pass it on to their families, and so on. So why can’t the same be true when we act with kindness toward those who are unkind to us? Just as cool water puts out a raging fire, our calm and patient response to someone’s anger just may set off a cascade effect, as that person begins to treat everyone else with kindness!
Of course, there’s no guarantee that we will see such positive results. But that didn’t prevent Maria Goretti from forgiving her murderer. She died without seeing how her mercy would bring the man to repentance and conversion. And neither did it stop Pope John Paul II from visiting his assailant in prison. These acts of charity, and many more like them, still witness to us today. Like these saints, you too can be a “change agent.” Christ is in you, and he can teach you how to turn the other cheek—just as he did.
“Lord, I’m awed by your love. Come, Lord, and fill me with your Spirit so that I can show everyone the mercy you have shown me!”
2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Psalm 98:1-4