18 Feb Tuesday
The Leviticus first reading was deliberately chosen to support very carefully the ‘But I say to you . . ” response of Jesus in the gospel, both in the last line of the gospel and in commentary about the revenge saying, which is the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. Then the interpretation begins and quickly goes off the rails. Questions arise: Who is my brother and sister? What is meant by “your people? Who is my neighbor?
The traditionalist often keep the range of inclusivity here narrow and reads this passage conservative and literally meaning “brother or sister” as members of my nuclear family.” “Your people” means only white Americans. And my neighbor means those living in the house on either side of me, and sometimes across the street. ONe would have that the parable of the Good Samaritan would have resolved this matter, but not so.
As ever, we live in a culture of revenge. For example, the deportations, the exclusion of Muslims, the fear of the “other”, the tribalism, the white supremacy nationalist, and the too frequent language of the president about “getting” people whom he feels have hurt him. This all trickles down to all of us in the cowardly new world we now live in.
This reading is chapters before the example story of the “eye for an eye” saying. It is very clear: “Take no revenge.”