I say to you: Do not resist an evil man.

When Christ says this, he means that we should not repay one offence with another but overcome it by virtue, thus extinguishing the fire of anger while it is still only a spark.

For if it becomes a full raging blaze it will not be put out without blood being shed.

Anger is overcome by mild­ness, rage is extinguished by gentleness, cruelty is subverted by goodness.

Patience punishes impa­tience, the acceptance of insults halts strife, and humility over­throws pride.

Therefore, if you wish to overcome offences, take up the weapons not of rage but of religion.

[…] The sickness of sin, vice, wickedness and impiety entered the deranged souls of men and with its savage rage drove out all knowledge, sense, and reason.

It caused the nations of the world to flee from God, follow demons, and worship creatures; to spurn the creator, desire evil and bring death to the living.

Consequently, the only way of healing the race was to send men, armed with all the devotion and patience of the heavenly physi­cian.

These people would endure the insults of their frenzied fellows, put up with their curses, bear their blows, and let themselves be wounded by them.

This they would do until they could bring their fellows back to sobriety and sense and thus enable them to seek God, flee demons, realise their illnesses, desire heal­ing, reject vice, acquire virtue, cease from wounding others, abhor bloodshed, reject killing, and restore life.

[…] So et us obey Christ and with all the strength afforded by religion let us put up with the bites and blows and burdens heaped on us by frenzied brethren.

In this way we may deliver them from punishment and win an everlasting reward for our patience.

Let us not refuse to accept from our fellow servants what our Lord deigned to accept from and for his servants.

He did not withdraw his face from their blows; to those who took his tunic and his coat he gave his body as well; and when they imposed forced labour on him, he freely and gladly followed them to death.

Therefore, if the Lord thought it right that he should suffer, can a servant consider it beneath him or her?

If we think so, we are mistaken, brethren, we are mistaken; for those who will not do what the Lord commanded will wait in vain for what he promised.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380 – c.450): Sermon 38 (CCL 24:217-9);  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.