11th Week in Ord. Time, Tuesday – 16th June 2020 — Gospel: Mt 5,43-48
Language of perfection
Jesus offers His challenge to his disciples by raising the standard higher. Loving (5,43), praying for (5,44), and forgiving (6,14-15) one’s enemy is an extension of Jesus’ broader teaching about the perfection of God (5,48). It is not easy to love those who harm and shame, or even our enemies. This counter intuitive act requires prayer and that calls for forgiveness. Such practices beforehand will benefit a person’s right action in life. For this style of life, Jesus provides a stimulating image to capture the basic quality of God, one that God’s followers should imitate. Later in Matthew’s story, Jesus confronts a rich man, who has faithfully followed the commandments of his religious tradition (19,16-22). This man still recognizes that something is missing (19,20). Jesus’ response to him is shocking: “sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor” (19,21). This incomplete action is classified to be “perfect” (19,21). Jesus desires this type of maturity from his followers. It is an invitation to begin living in God’s reign. His direction is: to love our enemies, to pray for those who harm us, to care for those who will not be able to give back to us. This teaching stems from a theological conviction that since God is perfect, so should the followers of God be. Just as God provides good things (sunshine and rain) for the just and the unjust, so must God’s followers treat others (whether ‘good’ or ‘evil’) with consistent love (5,45). Care for the other – despite the other’s actions – sums up the language of perfection, maturity, and fulfillment in life.