There is no doubt in my mind that to follow Jesus faithfully will require many radical decisions in our lives. The Sermon on the Mount, of which today’s Gospel is a part, is Matthew’s presentation of the New Law. The Old Law, the Ten Commandments, was received by Moses atop Mt Sinai; Matthew has Jesus climbing a mountain in order to proclaim the Beatitudes and these new understandings of how people are supposed to relate to one another.

In the text we read today Jesus reminds us that seeking revenge is not an option for Christians. Forgiveness is the way we deal with disagreements and hurts. This teaching is merely one example of where we see Jesus shifts the focus from one’s self to the other person. It is too easy for morality to reduce itself to a self-focused reality when, if we want to be living in the Spirit of the Gospel, we should be teaching ourselves how to live for others and not just ourselves. Generosity is a key foundation stone of the Gospel that Jesus proclaims. This truth is nowhere more evident in his choice to lay down his life on the cross.

To be a disciple of Jesus will mean that we will have to embrace all sorts of experiences of pain as we learn to follow in his footsteps. Even Jesus is repulsed by this idea and has to struggle to accept that he will endure the cross in obedience to his Father’s will. The reason Jesus has to endure suffering is so that we who suffer will be able to find both comfort and credibility in the promise of eternal life. If God just sat in heaven and told us not to worry about the struggles of life because all will be well in the end, there would be little credibility to his words. However, having endured suffering himself the words of Jesus are far more convincing in this respect.

How do I understand suffering in my life? Can I see its redemptive value?

Holy Spirit, help me to see the redemptive value of suffering and so strengthen me to endure the trials in my life in order to follow Jesus more faithfully.