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February 16, 1990     The Message
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February 16, 1990 Commentary The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana I 5 Mass Readings By FATHER DONALD DILGER The law of Talion: eye for eye, tooth for tooth Gospel Commentary for Sunday, Feb. 18, 1990 Seventh Sunday-Ordinary Time -- Matt 5:38-48 Today's reading is a continuation of the Ser- mon on the Mount. Last week's reading dealt at length with the relationship of Christians to the Law of Moses. Matthew presented this relationship in the "Six Antitheses" or contrasts between the law of Moses and the teachings of Jesus. The An- titheses begin with the words: "You have heard that it was said.., but I say to you .... " The Gospel today is concerned with the fifth and sixth Antitheses. The fifth forbids revenge; the sixth commands love of enemies. Let's examine the fifth Antithesis. It begins with the words: "You have heard that it was said: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' This phrase is sometimes called "the law of talion," from the Latin word "TALIS" meaning "SUCH" or "SAME." As a legal principle this law regulated revenge and compensation or retaliation for damages. Leviticus 24:17-22 stated this law in greater detail: "He who kills a man shall be put to death. He who kills a beast shall make it good, life for life. When a man causes a disfigurement in his neighbor, as he has done so shall it be done to him, fracture for fracture, EYE FOR EYE, TOOTH FOR TOOTH .... " This ancient law of revenge or compensation was not unique to Israel. We find such laws in Mesopotamian law codes dating back to 1800 B.C., thus long before there was a people of Israel. This tells us that such laws contained within the Bible did not fall out of the sky but were an expression of the common law legislated and observed for many centuries throughout the area from which the Hebrew-Israelite people originated. The law as stated in Leviticus may seem harsh to us, but what we have there shows considerable social progress. The earliest stage of human rela- tions appears to have allowed unlimited revenge in case of injury or death. The earliest limitation of this practice is found in Genesis where God tells Cain that if anyone kills him, "vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." The patriarch Lamech is somewhat fiercer when he says in Genesis 4:23: "I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged seven times, truly Lamech (will be avenged) seventy times seven times." By such a principle a clan takes on the responsibility of avenging a member of the clan until all sides are wiped out. The Law of Moses then showed considerable progress by limiting revenge to "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." No more could be taken. If one man bit off the nose of another, he would by law have his own nose bitten off, but nothing beyond the nose. The amputation would be done by the injured man or his closest relative if he could not do so himself, for example, no teeth. Some progress is seen by the development of monetary fines in some cases. But Matthew, following the teaching of Jesus, forbids revenge of any kind and states the principle of non-resistance to evil: "BUT I SAY TO YOU. Do not resist the evil one. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, etc." The new law rules out physical violence as a response to injury. Moral resistance is not ruled out, such as the "non- violence" of Ghandi or Martin LutherKing. Paul states the principle of non-resistance to violence but encourages a positive response, i.e. to do good to your enemy in return for the evil he has done to you. Paul has combined the fifth antithesis of Jesus with the sixth antithesis: LOVE YOUR ENEMY AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU." This is the ultimate stage in the evolution of revenge. For a Christian there is no revenge. Such matters are left in the hand of God. Even the words that Paul quotes in Romans 19-21, that vengeance is left to God, are left out of the teaching of Jesus. There is no revenge. Instead there is a hope for the repentance based on the command to pray for one's persecutors. This is a difficult pill to swallow and not even practiced at all times by some writers of the New Testament, for exarople, Paul and Matthew who sometimes mercilessly at- tack their opponents in their writings. To evolve into non-resistance and love of enemies and prayer for them is called by Matthew to "BE PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT." This is how he ends the Six Antitheses. Other readings for Sunday, Feb. 18, 1990: Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18; ICor 3:16-23 2 anti-aoc rtion bills are in hands of Indiana Senate By ANN WADELTON the bill. Indiana CatholicConference HB 1088, the sex selection bill, and HB 1259, a fetal The fate of anti-abortion viability bill, were not sched- legislation in the Indiana uled for hearings. A hearing on General Assembly is now in the the latter bill was uimecessary hands of the Senate. Two bills because fetal viability is have been approved by commit- included ill HB 1034. tees. Two others were denied The two bills have until tile hearings. 25th session day to gain ap- Intense lobbying by both sup- proval by the full Senate. Mon- porters and opponents pre- day, Feb. 12, was the 21st ses- ceded the bearings. The 28-seat siGn day, with future session hearing room was packed an days not yet announced. The ahour before the early morning House vote on HB 1134 was hearings and many jammed the 64-34 and on HB 1034 was hallway outside the hearing 56-43. room. As approved in the Senate HB 1134, informed consent, Committee, HB 1134 would re- Was approved by a 9-3 vote in quire a physician to disclose in- the Senate Public Policy Corn- formation to a woman about the raittee. HB 1034, which in- risks involved in having an cludes restrictions upheld in abortion, such as hemorrhag- the Stipreme Court's Webster ing, infertility and infection. It decision last summer, barely also requires the doctor or his Survived the Senate Judiciary representative to tell the Committee, with a vote of 7-5. woman about alternatives to Two who voted to support said abortion, such as available ey did so to allow debate by prenatal care, childbirth and e full Senate. They declined neonatal care. It further re- to promise further support for quires the Indiana State Board I of Health (ISBH) to publish in- formation about the I F Peoples Trust |. Company | 59 SOUTH MAIN STREET / P.O. BOX 191 L LINTON, INDIANA 47441 St. Mary's Counseling Center Private & Confidential Reasonable Rates Flexible Hours (812)479-4300 ll[ St Mary00 Medical Cedter 3700 Washington Avenue Evansville, Indiana 47750 LOOGOOTEE FOOD MARKET INC. GENE BURCH Main Street Pharmacy 217 E. Main St.- Downtown Washington Phone: 254-5141 characteristics of the unborn child at various stages of development, as well as publishing a list of agencies which may help the pregnant woman who chooses to carry her baby to term. A 24 hour waiting period is required after the information is given. And malpractice insurance would be required of both the physician and the clinic. While opponents argued that HB 1134 would duplicate cur- rent practice, William J. Wood, attorney for the Indiana Catholic Conference, testified that the bill includes "signifi- cant differences that enhance the legitimate interest of the state of Indiana in preserving life.". Among the differences is the requirement that the physi- cian tell the woman about risks. Current ISBH rule permits anyone to make the disclosures. Two women tesitifed that they never saw the abortionists prior to the procedure. HB 1134 also requires that specific information be given rather than the current general advice. The printed ISBH infor- mation is a totally new require- ment, as is the malpractice insurance. While the attorney for those KNOX COUNTY SEED COMPANY VINCENNES opposing the bill predicted that it would be found un- constituitonal, Wood said that HB 1134 was "not on the cut- ting edge. It is a very modest bill, not as far as Webster would allow." The committee made two changes in the legislation before forwarding it to the full Senate. It approved an amend- ment that would exempt women who are seeking abor- tions because of rape or incest. Abortions necessary to save the life of the mother already were exempted. The committee also removed requirements that materials be printed in Spanish as well as English. The more comprehensive bill, HB 1034, was described by its author, Rep. Frank Newkirk (D-Salem) at the end of four hours of testimony, as "getting government out of the abortion business, protecting the unborn once they are viable, and en- couraging adoptions." Senator Joseph Corcoran, {R- Seymour) Senate sponsor, said that he supports the bill because of his "personal com- mitment to respect for life." That bill would ban the use of public facilities and employees for abortions and require testing for viability if the unborn child is thought to be at least 20 weeks gestation. It also requires a committee to study Indiana's current adoption laws and how they can be improved to en- courage adoptions. A provis!on that would have banned abortions of unborn babies after the 20th week of gestation was removed from the bill at the request of Rep. Newkirk. Current law prohibits abortion on a viable fetus, ex- cept to save the life of the mother or to prevent substantial permanent physical impair- inent. But it sets no specific time for testing for viability. An informed consent provi- sion was also removed because the concept is already being considered in HB 1134. Indiana already prohibits the use of state funds for abortions. Because of this, abortions per- formed at Indianapolis' Wishard Hospital, a public facility, must be paid in full prior to the abortion. Testimony indicating that physicians per- forming abortions hire the staff and no state funds are used. But under HB 1034, use of the facility would be banned. Rep. Newkirk testified that one in 15 Hoosier abortions are performed in a public facility. Those performed in private facilities 'throughout the state would not be afffected by this part of the bill. But somecounty hospitals would come under its requirements. The most recent figures available from the Board of Health show that 14,821 abortions were performed in In- diana in 1986. That figures 180.6 abortions for every 1000 live births. According to testimony, women seeking abortions beyond 20 Weeks gestation travel to surrounding states. ISBH figures show that no abor- tions beyond the 20 weeks gestation were performed in Indiana. The ultrasound test would be used to determine the viability of the unborn child. Under cur- rent law, post viability abor- tions must be performed in a See 2 page 14 PRESCRIPTION DRUGGiStS