Date: March 12
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/SatFirstWeek.html
Contributor: Marilyn+ Baldwin
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” — Matthew 5:48
What does “perfect” mean? How can Jesus possibly tell us to “be perfect” when he knows very well that we’re sinners?
“Perfect” has different meanings, from describing something (or Someone) without flaws, to a thing made completely of one substance - as in perfect yellow, perfect blue. Sometimes we’re not even completely human, let alone Godlike. For us, perfection would mean embracing both the nature of humanity at its best, as well as our spiritual nature, as Jesus did.
No, we aren’t perfect, but we were created in the image of One Who Is. Genesis tells us that “God created humankind in (their) own image; in the image of God (they) created them. (Genesis 1:27a) So we are like God, after all, but we have these all-too-human struggles.
This is not about perfectionism. This is not about beating ourselves up for not being first or best at everything, having the most beautiful home, family, or a perfect record at church, school, or the health club. This is about being open to how God would have us think and behave, with those we know and love, those we don’t know, and with those who just might be unloveable. God loves each of us, warts and all. God especially loves the unloveable, which sometimes includes you and me.
Jesus calls us all to practice being perfect, especially with those with whom we don’t see eye-to-eye. It’s difficult. First we must admit that they, too, have value in God’s eyes, and may just be the difference between us being stuck in fear or anger or moving to a new place where we become a bit more like the Jesus we try to follow. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, a Father of the Church, gave us this life-changing wisdom: “Christ was made man that we might be made God.” (On the Incarnation). It takes time and intention on our part. And God.
We find that our lives must be turned over to God to lead us into the ways that will bring us closer to perfection in God’s eyes. It won’t happen overnight; it may take a lifetime, or more. We cannot accomplish any of this on our own, but God can. Keep asking. Keep following. Keep practicing.