An Eye for an Eye

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany

From “Saving the Ants” (Download book at left!) 

Scripture Reference: Matt. 5:38-48 and 1 Cor. 3:18-19 bell1 copy

Preparation: Bring an organ donation card with you; your own or one from a member of the congregation.

Can anyone tell me what the word revenge means? (Discuss meaning and examples of revenge with children.) Revenge is getting back at someone who hurt you. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus talks about revenge. The people that Jesus was talking to knew about the old law that said, “If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it”(Matt. 5:38 NLT). Everyone accepted this law and thought it was fair.

But Jesus told them something very different. He told the people not to take revenge on those who hurt them. Jesus told them that if someone slapped them on one cheek, they were to turn the other cheek toward him and let him slap that one as well. Does that sound silly? If you hit back, does the fight continue and even get worse? Yes, it does. If you don’t strike back, that is usually the end of the fight.

I want to tell you a true story about a little boy and his parents. They were a family from California who were on vacation in Italy. One day, a car pulled up alongside them and gunshots were fired into their car. The little boy, Nicholas, was sitting in the back seat and was killed. His parents were very sad. But they found a way to bring good out of this tragedy. They decided to donate Nicholas’ organs to seven people. Instead of wanting to take away someone’s life to get revenge for their little boy, those parents gave life to seven people.

This act of forgiveness shocked the people of Italy. At that time, not very many people in Italy were willing to donate their organs after they died to others who needed them. Many people now have organ donor cards that they carry with their driver’s license. (Here you can show the donor card.) If a donor has an accident and dies, then important parts of their body can be used to help others live. If someone dies and donates their heart, then a doctor can put the healthy heart into a person who needs it.

As a way of showing their thanks for this gift of life from Nicholas and his parents, 130 bells were given by families, churches, and schools throughout Italy. These bells were hung on a tower that was built to honor the memory of Nicholas. Nicholas and his parents did what Jesus would have done. Instead of seeking revenge, they gave life.

Prayer:  Thank you Lord, for people of love and mercy. Help us to turn the other cheek; to turn away from revenge and to turn toward forgiveness and life. 

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