This Winter 2014 issue of the 12 Step Review opens with a piece about “turning the other cheek.”

“There is a principle that all seminarians learn that St Thomas Aquinas presents in his theological work, the Summa.  This gives insight as to why the teaching of Jesus about turning the other cheek is so often misunderstood.  The principle goes, ‘Whatever is received, is received according to the mode of the receiver.”

Father Vogt writes, “We are very much influenced by our own personality, backgrounds, the level of faith, knowledge we’ve acquired, etc..”

He writes about a woman who can’t stand up to her husband on an important family/marriage issue.  The husband informs his wife they are moving, to pack up — without discussing things with her.  She seeks the help of a priest to talk her through her challenge of being a good wife and honoring God’s will for her life.

So, when Jesus’ teaches us about turning the other cheek, is He is telling us to be a doormat?

Certainly not.

Now I don’t speak for Jesus but the way I understand things is that He teaches us to turn the other cheek to teach us to forgive and not judge.  DO NOT JUDGE.  It doesn’t matter that somebody offended you or killed your child.  Forgive.

If somebody offends me, it’s pretty easy for me to forgive.  And my temperament — cutting me off in traffic or canceling your ad at the last minute.. easy. forgive. easy peasey lemon squeezy.

Kill my child? not so much.

So let’s go with Jesus’ teaching as if it was applying to just every day stuff.  Every day annoying people that cross our paths.  His teachings about turning the other cheek when it comes to the big stuff can be taken to our confessor, our spiritual advisors.