Message: Jesus today brings us a step closer to the synthesis: The love with which we do any good deed flows from an awareness of God's love for us, expressed perfectly in the cross.
Lent comes late this year so we have the opportunity to reflect on major portions of the Sermon on the Mount. This will help us move toward what Pope Francis refers to as the "synthesis." So far we have seen that the purpose of our existence is not so much to do deeds, but what matters, the love we put into them. For that reason we strive to live the whole moral law.
Today Jesus places those acts of love in an extraordinary context. "Be perfect," he says, "just as your heavenly Father is perfect." This sentence can sound like doom. How can I be perfect like God? I am constantly plagued by anger, laziness and lust.* Over and over I fall.
Let's take a closer look at the perfection Jesus requires. It's not so much that people will look at us and exclaim, "Wow, how did he become so good?" No, perfection is not about how people look at us, but how we look at them. Jesus wants us to step out of ourselves and see things from God's perspective. "He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust." God cares for each person he created and Jesus gave his live even for the most miserable specimen of humanity.
He asks us to give a dramatic testimony by offering no resistance to the evil person. This does not mean becoming a doormat. When a man hits Jesus, he does not strike back, but he says, "Why did you strike me?" Jesus challenges his attacker because he wants that man's conversion.
Jesus tells us to do good not only to lovable people, but even to human toothaches. You know who they are. And have you not at times been one? God knows your every thought, motive and action - and he continues to care for you. We see that care in Jesus who forgives those responsable for humilliating and torturing him. Those people, by the way, are you and me.
So Jesus tells us to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." See the other person as God does. And even so, love him. I know it sounds impossible, but the best starting place: yourself, my good brother, my adorable sister. Know thyself - from the one true perspective. When I glimpse how God sees me and still loves me, I can begin to have some sense how I am to see that person I find so difficult. Be perfect, says Jesus.
Jesus today brings us a step closer to the synthesis: The love with which we do any good deed flows from an awareness of God's love for us, expressed perfectly in the cross.
"He pardons all your iniquity and heals all your ills," as we hear in the Psalm, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who hear him." Amen.
*Not to mention envy, greed, pride and gluttony.
From Archives (Seventh Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Bishop Bob Barron's Homilies
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Parish Picture Album
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
Review of Roe