Monday of week 11 in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 21:1-16; Psalm 5:2-3,5-7; Matthew 5:38-42

The prescription from the Law, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, was not as barbaric as it seems. Read in context (Exodus 21) then one can see that the Law being formulated then, was limiting revenge, rather than defining that revenge must be taken. For many offences in Ex 21, there might be an equal revenge entitlement, but the injured party and the defendant of the charge are given an alternative means of retribution - a fine.

Jesus extends this, and to simply quote that the Bible entitles you to revenge for an injury is to completely ignore the second part of today's Gospel: Jesus tells us not to seek out revenge.

How can we apply this teaching today? Well, our Penal code is designed to encourage a turning about on behalf of the defendant: yes some punishment might be deserved, but the nature of that punishment should encourage the reformation of character. Perhaps there is a good question to ask of your parliamentary candidates before you decide whom to vote for?

A Catholic understanding of criminal justice has three aims: retribution, rehabilitation and redemption.

Posted in Daily Reflection.