“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven… And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48)
Having being created by a perfect God, Jesus tells us today that we are called to perfection. You may wonder, what does it mean to be perfect? Does it mean becoming as strong and as powerful as God? Does it mean becoming totally sinless and infallible? Does it mean seeing visions of Angels?
In very simple terms, Jesus defines perfection as the ability to love our enemies and treat with kindness those who persecute us. To be perfect is to be like God who lets His rain fall on both the good and bad.
To be perfect is to love your enemies and pray for them just like Jesus Christ on the Cross who asked for forgiveness for those who hung Him. Surely, this is not something easy but it is the essence of perfection.
Perfection is love – love that does not discriminate or condemn; love that is capable of bringing the sinner back on track. When Jesus was eating with the tax collectors and sinners, the holier-than-thou Pharisees felt Jesus was stepping out of line. Little did they realize that by showing love to sinners, Jesus opened a door of salvation for them.
You may be a miracle worker, you have the ability to raise the dead to life and speak in all the languages of the world but so long as you cannot love your enemies and your heart is so full of hatred for certain persons, you are not perfect. As St. Paul puts it:
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Meanwhile, in today’s first reading, St. Paul praises the churches of Macedonia for their generosity despite their extreme poverty. I have come to realize that when people are touched by the message and work of the minister, they are ready to go to any length to ensure he or she lacks nothing. As such, the minister must have the attitude of St. Paul being careful not to develop a sense of entitlement or exploiting the people. Surely, this would require trusting entirely in God’s providence.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to grow in perfection. Amen.
Bible Study: 2nd Corinthians 8:1-9, Psalm 146 and Matthew 5:43-48).