Deacon George’s Homily for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our Gospel reading, Jesus quotes from the ancient “Law of Limited Retaliation” – “Lex Talionis” or commonly known as the “eye for eye” law. This law is in the book of Leviticus (24:19). It states: “Anyone who injures a neighbour shall receive the same in return, a broken limb for a broken limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As the injury inflicted, so will be the injury suffered. (Lev. 24:19.)” This may seem a savage and bloodthirsty law, but in fact, it was the beginning of mercy in the ancient world. It was originally, the “Code of Hammurabi”, written in Babylon, 2,250 years before Christ. It was introduced to prevent blood feuds and vendettas. For example, if someone from the first village, killed someone from the second village, then in revenge, the second village would attack the first village, and perhaps tens, and hundreds, of lives would then be lost. Therefore, this “eye for eye” law reduced the fighting and multiple deaths, and thus limited the retaliation, to the penalty of the equal injury. One death for one death. In reality though, in most civilised societies, this law was very seldom carried out to the letter…..