Now there’s a challenge!
Jesus is calling us to nothing less than perfection. Let’s take a look at what he means (and what he doesn’t mean) by perfection.
Following yesterday’s post on our healthy human desire for the salvation that Jesus brings, and our own need to accept this gift and then to live in this life-long process of recovery, today’s scriptures are the perfect follow-up challenging us to “seek the Lord with all our heart” (ref. today’s Psalm)
The scriptures are full of great reports of God’s interaction with people. These stories have all the drama, intrigue, sex and violence offered by any modern novel or TV mini-series. There are dramas and tragedies, comedies and romances for all ages with deeper significance for those who are open to the voice of God.
The common theme through both the Old and New Testament is that God is moved more by the person with humble heart than by the one who keeps all the rules without wavering. The scriptures are full of stories of sinners who come to see that while they may have hours and even days when they manage to the letter of many laws, their hearts are usually astray.
We find happiness when we live with desire for God alone, discovering that when in this state-of-recovery that all our human desires are fulfilled as well, not by our effort but by God’s gift.
The true disciple is the one who lives every moment with a humble acknowledgement of their need for God.
It’s really not too difficult to keep rules. A well structured system of reward and punishment with some external enforcements and competition will bring a good degree of superficial obedience. But Jesus takes us deeper on a process of growing human and therefore spiritual maturation.
And it’s easy enough to be seen by others to keep the law, but what is Jesus getting at when he brings the heart and soul into the command? “This day the LORD, your God, commands you to observe these statutes and decrees. Be careful, then, to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.”
This is where the helpful structures of healthy religion lead us into the life of faith. This is where the obedient child becomes the mature adult, able to live with the ambiguities of life with a gentleness and a passion that is love.
The people of the Old Testament rejoiced when Moses came down the mountain with the ten commandments, the “Law.” Now God had spoken to them directly in a way that gave life to every detail of their lives. The creator had now communicated the owners’ manual for human living. Striving to live by this law is the sign that one is receiving the life of God, and Jesus’ call is to be perfect not simply by adhering to the law but by participating in the life of God: “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The perfection that we are created for (and which Jesus recalls us to) is found when we seek to live in love of all people, not just those we like, but especially our enemies.
I know I’ve used this before but I love this reflection of Pedro Arrupe (Superior General of the Society of Jesus until 1981)
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
- Spend a couple of minutes praying with the Pedro Arrupe reflection. Which word or phrase speaks to you most deeply?
- Today’s Lectio Divina based on the gospel from today’s liturgy. Try the 15 minute one at this link or the 25 minute here.
- Take a moment to offer a prayer for those whose initials are listed below. The emails accompanying these prayer requests tell of every kind of human suffering and I know that those who are prayed for are helped to encounter God in their suffering through our prayer for them.
- Thank you to those who have sent donations to support the Food For Faith mission. If you have also sent an email with contact details your receipts will follow in the next few days. S0me have committed to a monthly contribution and this is especially helpful for our budgeting. More information on how to donate to the development of the FFF mission at this link. Once again, thank you. Be assured of my prayers for you and for your intentions.