Subject: Daily Gospel Reading - Saturday, February 23, 2013
|Weekday Gospel Reflection|
|Saturday in the First Week of Lent|
Jesus told his disciples:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
Matthew 5:43-48 - World English Bible
What does it mean to be perfect?
Many people envision perfection in Greek terms as stasis, the quality of being unmoved and dispassionate, like a statue. For example, the Greek philosopher Aristotle saw God as the "Unmoved Mover," a self contained being without beginning or end or blemish of any type. This notion of perfection has slipped into Western culture with the myth of the self-sufficient individual, the person who doesn't need anyone to make him fulfilled. Perfection, then, is more than existence without flaw; it is the power to be complete, by one's self.
Notice, Jesus did not address that sense of perfection; he defined perfection within a relationship. Love others, even enemies, the same way God loves you. For Jesus, that stood as a principle, not as a means to an end. What does one gain by being charitable to family and friends? Everyone, even sinners, treat loved ones with deference; nothing was really gained by that behavior. No, Jesus defined perfection as universal charity; the only goal gained by such action was a seat in the Kingdom, as a child of God.
By teaching this way, Jesus swam against popular opinion. The proverb "Love your neighbor, hate your enemy" combined Leviticus 19:18 and the Qumran "Manual of Discipline" IX 21-26. So the preference of insider over outsider had some cache at his time. Yet, the Lord stood against the mentality of "us vs. them," but not in some "pie in the sky" notion of universal love and peace. No, he recognized the problems a Christian might face with persecution; he was concerned with the response of the believer.
So, what does it mean to be perfect? Respond with charity.
How have you been perfect today?
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