Some time ago, I heard different sermons on the ‘turn the other cheek’ gospel:
Priest 1 said: This is what Christ taught us. It’s difficult to be a Christian, but we have to do it. (And the rest of the sermon just kept repeating the same thought.)
Priest 2 said: It’s all about forgiveness. As Christians, we need to forgive. (And the rest of the sermon just kept repeating the same thought.)
Priest 3 said: The other has sinned against us by striking us, but the point is not just that we need to forgive the other for hurting us. The point is we should not add to the sins in the world by striking back. We cannot control other people, but we can control ourselves.
By turning the other cheek, we show people who hurt us compassion and love instead of anger and retaliation. We show them that we still love them as a brother or sister in Christ, and should they realize their faults, we welcome them back to our lives wholeheartedly.
This doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be taken advantage of or require yourself to take care of everybody. You should also take care of yourself, and for many people there is a limit to how many people they can love completely. However, we can show our love to others by wishing the best for them and hoping they grow to become better persons, and by sincerely living this without the jealousy that sometimes accompanies learning that past enemies have turned their lives for the better, sometimes even better than ours.
This is not easy, but when we understand why Christ asks us to do this, we will realize that such an attitude will lead to a better world.
I attended three masses that day because I was so pissed at the first two priests who couldn’t explain what the gospel meant.
If all Catholic priests are like the 3rd priest, then the world will be a better place. Indeed, if all religious leaders teach love and compassion in an intelligent way, i.e. one that encourages others to think for themselves, the world will be a better place.