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February 16, 1996     The Message
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February 16, 1996

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16,1 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana "Commentary-- Sermon on the mount conti GOSpel COmmentary for 1996: Seventh Sun. Matthew 5:38-48. Week's gospel dealt with of the Ser- The topics were: murder, rec- lustful de- and remarriage; no swearing at up the two a prohibition of re- an extension of ghbor to love of Those who can antithesis or contrast with tradi- said by Matthew to be perfect. ofthe six antitheses or contrasts be- thesis: "It was said: 'An eye for an eye a tooth." These words are a reference The fuller statements is this: "If then you shall give life for life, eye burn for burn, foot for foot, 'WOUnd, stripe for stripe." In other words, physical assault upon others are injury inflicted upon them as they This could be anything from a to an amputation to life itself. 19:21 adds: 'Tou are to show no pity." this is the stage at which many are  c.all themselves Christians. law seems harsh, but what we have considerable social progress for earliest stage of human relations ap- unlimited revenge in case of The earliest biblical expression of B(N FATHER DILGER COLUMNIST nues: Revenge this custom is found in Genesis where God is said to put a limit of sevenfold on revenge, when God says to Cain in Genesis 4:15, "If anyone slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." In Gen- esis 4:23 the patriarch Lamech is described more fiercely: "If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech will be avenged seventy-seven- fold.'(The Christian gospel will turn old Lamech upside down when Jesus will tell his disciples to for- give seventy times seven times, an infinite number.) The Torah or Law of Moses had already taken a step forward by limiting revenge to eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc. But what is the ultimate interpretation of that ancient law in the Sermon on the Mount? "But I say to you, 'Do not resist the evil one. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone would sue you and take your coat, let • him have your cloak as well.'" One might say with Peter on another occasion: "This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?" Nevertheless, this is the teach- ing of Jesus as Matthew presents it. Those who would follow him are expected to live by this teach- ing. And it gets better, (or some would say worse), in the sixth and final antithesis. The thesis is this: "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." The first part, love of neighbor, is demanded by Leviticus 19:18. The "neighbor" is a fellow-Israelite. This command to love was extended by Leviticus 19:34 to the stranger or non-Israelite living among them. As to 9 and love of enemies hatred of one's enemy, there is no such command- ment in the Old Testament, although the Israelites at times seem to treat their enemy with hatred. See for example Deuteronomy 7:2. That hatred of ene- mies was commanded by at least one Jewish group is seen in the Manual of Discipline of the Dead Sea Scrolls: " hate all the children of darkness each according to his fault in the vengeance of God." Matthew, who otherwise shows a tendency to be rather free in quoting the Hebrew and Old Testa- ment Greek Scriptures, may have known of such a contemporary regulation and assumed it to be part of the Torah. It was not. One could argue that Matthew is not quoting Scripture, but he certainly implies that he is. And what is the Matthean Jesus' antithesis or response to the sixth thesis? "But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." It should be pointed out that this "ultimate in- terpretation" of the Torah is not entirely new. Proverbs 25:21-22 has this statement: "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink. By so doing you will heap coals of fire upon his head and the Lord will re- ward you." In Romans 12:20 Paul quotes this verse from Proverbs, not because he urges forgiveness, but in the context of leaving revenge to God. But that is not the view of the Sermon on the Mount: Instead it demands unconditional forgiveness. Only then can we be children of our Father in heaven, "who makes his sun shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust... You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.  It is not easy to be a Christian in more than name. Readings: Leviticus 19:1.2, 17-18; I Cor 3:16-23. Street ICKEN IES NFDS, CALL JaSper, IN D'O'W.N.T.O.W. N "' VINCENNES, IN 47591 up .... $239.81 Span PKGs Quotes SALES nelburg. Golden Jubilarians Jim and Avila (Hoefling) Fehrenbacher will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a dinner and dance for family and friends on Feb. 24. The couple was married Feb. 23, 1946, at St. Joseph Church, Vanderburgh County. They are the parents of five children: James Alan Fehrenbacher, Glen Fehrenbacher, Randy Fehrenbacher and Susan Gardner, all of Evansville, and Sherri Adler of Haubstadt. They have nine grandchildren, and two great- grandchildren. Mr. Fehrenbacher retired from Arkla in 1981, and Mrs. Fehrenbacher retired from the Evansville- Vanderburgh School Corporation in 1981. Golden Jubilarians Philip E. and Josephine (Seibert) Alvey Sr. will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanks- giving at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at Sacred Heart Church. A re- ception will follow in Resurrection cafeteria. The couple was married Feb. 23, 1946, at Sacred Heart Church, Evansville, by Father H.F. Flaherty. They are the parents of eight children: Leo Alvey, Diane Alvey, Philip E. Alvey + Jr., Daniel Alvey, Michael Alvey, Linda Carr and Terence Alvey, all of Evansville. Their son, Anthony Alvey, is de- ceased. They have 23 grandchildren, and five great-grand. children. Mr. Alvey retired from Whirlpool in 1986 after 40 !. "' Funs_ m!'Homes'' Ys:7°s°;:S:aTeiCtee'aM'rs'Alveyisretiredfr°mMaterDeiHigh I +'' FoUr ' HIGHLAND CHAPEL I Convenient Locations s:)oo FIRST AVE. I "'!"' !! ' ! I,, "'!"' !!