“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Although perfection is never within our grasp, many of us strive for it in various ways. Some try to perfect their careers. Others seek perfection in their athletic performance. Many attempt to perfect their appearances, grades, or resumés. Often these aspects of our lives, which become the focus of our energy and attention, cause us to worry, fret, and even doubt ourselves. Ultimately, perfection isn’t possible, yet we go to great lengths to reach for it.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to an equally impossible task, to love perfectly as God does. If we are honest and in tune with ourselves, we know that we fall short of this perfect love no matter how hard we try. Nevertheless, Jesus is telling us that this aspect of our lives, the way we love others, is something worth throwing our energy into.
Think of how much we could grow if we shifted our focus from perfecting other things in our lives to seeking perfection in the way we love. Ask yourself: What is one way I can work to perfect my love today?
Lord, we understand that forgiveness is a process. If we find ourselves stuck in bitterness and clinging to feelings that turn our guts and bring our spirits down, lead us to people and happenings that move us away from this poison. Give us wisdom to avoid other’s duplicity, the ability to navigate a toxic environment, and patience to know the next path.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!