“But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” Matthew 5:39 NRSV
OBSERVATION: We often read these words of Jesus as a radical to passivity. In truth, His teaching calls for a much deeper confrontation than a reciprocal act of violence. In Jesus’ context, being struck on the cheek conjures up a social order that places masters over servants and the powerful over the powerless. By striking someone, the striker acts to put the recipient into his or her proper lower place, and expects the one who is struck to cower back to their appropriate behavior. When Jesus tells his listeners to stand and give the other cheek, he calls for them to stand against the oppression of violence by refusing to allow worldly power to take control of them. Jesus tells the crowd to resist worldly desire for power and stand as a pillar of the peace of God’s kingdom. The difficult calling of law enforcement asks something similar of the men and women who put on their uniforms. They stand in the face of violence and unjust claims of power in order to be the presence of peace in our communities. Their task demands more than retributive response, it demands an ability to hold fast in the presence of evil and be the light of peace and respect. They are icons of hope in a world that often feels hopeless, and they earn their status in the moments when our citizens are in greatest need of hope. I, for one, am grateful.
PRAYER: Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our law enforcement. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord.