15TH JUNE 2021
2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-9
BE PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.
" You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. " These words of Jesus in today's Gospel passage do not match with a popular phrase that says, " Nobody is perfect. " This phrase is used to say that everyone makes mistakes and therefore you should not be worried when you make one.
Is Jesus asking us for actual perfection yet we are mere imperfect mortals? Is he asking for too much that we cannot give?
The dictionary defines the word perfect as:
.Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics.
.Absolute or complete especially when emphasizing.
.To make something completely free from faults or defects.
.To make it as good as possible.
If we go with the dictionary definition of the word perfect, then it means that literally Jesus wants us to be as good as possible and completely free from faults or defects.
In this Gospel passage, Jesus introduces the less than perfect way of the law of Moses that says love your neighbour and hate your enemy( The neighbour is defined in Leviticus 19:8 as the sons of your own people, while the enemy is defined in Leviticus 26:7 as people to be chased down especially the Canaanites in the Promised Land and to be fell by the sword.)
After introducing the less than perfect way of the Mosaic law, Jesus introduces the perfect way which is to love everyone.
This means that love is the perfect way and the best example of this perfection is God who makes the sun and the rain to be felt by all regardless of their character, whether good or bad.
At one time or another we have encountered people whom we can refer to as perfectionists.
A perfectionist is someone who deeply believes that he or she is fine and does not need to change any aspect of who they are even if others have told them to change.
That definition of a perfectionist is not in tandem with the teaching of Jesus today because whereas a perfectionist does not want to change, being perfect as God is perfect calls for you to change and adapt to something new that you have never given due consideration, and today we are called to change and actually love our enemies and pray for our prosecutors.
Being perfect therefore in this passage means persisting and moving towards the intended goal or the desired outcome of a thing, that is, being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Being the salt of the earth and the light of the world was our Gospel passage last week on Tuesday and we said that these words of Jesus are not in the past tense or in the future tense but are in the present tense and we said this is what we are and what we do.
This means that if we have to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us so as to persist in being perfect just as God is perfect, then the love and the prayer are to be done now; and this will make us the persons God has created us to be( sons and daughters of God the Father) just as God who is God is supposed to be.
This reading comes at a time when we are much obsessed with our enemies to the point of praying so that we succeed for them to see, we pray that they may fall and not us, we say novenas against them, we quote Bible verses that touch on them and we go to be anointed so as to be protected from them but we forget that even as we do all these spiritual battles or wars,God makes his sun and rain be felt by us and by our enemies.
Be perfect as your heavenly Father is. It is possible even now.