The Mount of Beatitudes is one of the most picturesque and serene places in the Holy Land. It is a large hill situated at the Northeast end of the Sea of Galilee. It is the kind of place you hear the words of the Sermon on the Mount and you are taken up in their beauty.
In the small package we unwrap today we have the kind of initial expectation that one gets when shopping at a store like Ikea. You wander the halls and you see furniture and space-saving items that will help transform the clutter of your house. But then something really difficult happens. You receive a cardboard package that can’t possibly be the item in the showroom. “Some Assembly Required” must rank as three of the most horrible words ever written on a set of instructions.
And so Jesus leads with a common expression of His day, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” The implication is that a disciplined and beautiful life sets that kind of revenge aside. Like those items in the store we can see the beauty of setting revenge aside, assuming of course that there isn’t anything resembling a real attack on us. Jesus begins the lesson on “Assembly Required” such that we are told not to resist the evil person, turn the un-slapped cheek, hand over the coat that isn’t required and go that dreaded extra mile.
Jesus takes us way beyond “put widget 29 into slot A1 and insert piece X tightening together with odd shaped tool included in this box”. These are life-altering words that will take a lifetime to implement. Let’s just start with “do not resist an evil person.” Really? Well of course Jesus didn’t live in the world of ISIS. Oh wait; there was Herod the Great wiping out an entire city of young boys and a few other rather callous humans running around the land weren’t there.
Lent is a time of reflection. Take the risk. Don’t just view the assembled package of Jesus’ life; see what it means to live His words through your life.