“Jesus abhorred the idea either of retaliation or of becoming just a passive sufferer of injustice…. He taught […] three ways of contending with, and resisting evil:
1. To return evil for evil—the positive but unrighteous method.
2. To suffer evil without complaint and without resistance—the purely negative method.
3. To return good for evil, to assert the will so as to become master of the situation, to overcome evil with good—the positive and righteous method.
Teacher: “How could retaliation have a positive connotation? Jesus meant it in contrast with the negative connotation of passivity. Retaliation is aggressive and proactive while the second attitude is submissive and cannot contribute to reform the behavior of the aggressor.
“Let us now look at the third and ‘avant-garde’ attitude depicted by Jesus. Whoever thought of returning good for evil? Jesus’ suggestion was both intriguing and shocking to His audience who had been taught for ages the ‘an eye for an eye’ retribution principle that may well stop the aggressor in his misguided tracks but fails to expunge his iniquitous behavior. Indeed, ‘offending’ the offender is not a viable response, as it stacks more grudges on top of those already accumulated.
“To return good for evil is both a proactive and righteous method of dealing with evil. It is not merely passive or aggressive, which is why it has the power to get the attention of the aggressor who does not expect such a pacifist comeback. Bullies relish crushing the spirit of their preys, adding to their distress to force them into submission. They draw a perverted sense of satisfaction from such a cruel undertaking.
“Whenever the intended victim does not act as one but, keeping in mind the highest good of the perpetrator, ‘retaliates in goodness’ rather than in kind, it is a God-sent opportunity for the evil-doer to have a conversion experience. Far from mirroring his harsh behavior, the victim models an innovative way to respond—of the type ‘a blessing for a curse.’
“Dear ones, whenever iniquity impacts you, use your imagination and the compassion in your heart to devise original responses that are both positive and righteous. By doing so, you are asserting your willpower without seceding from the Golden Rule."