I’m always struck by one of the verses in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 26. “And today the Lord is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly his own.” I love that phrase, “peculiarly his own.” Have you ever thought of yourself that way? As “peculiarly his own?” If not, mull on that for a while. Because that is what you are to God: peculiarly his.
In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 5, Jesus says to his disciples, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Wow. That’s a tall order, no? And maybe this is an issue that you struggle with. I know that I do. Perfectionism. Perfection is something that is pretty much impossible to achieve, isn’t it? Especially when we’re talking about the perfection of God. Sorry, Jesus…great thought, but I just can’t pull that one off.
But wait. In Luke’s version of this saying, a different word is used. Luke 6:36 renders it this way: “Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.” Hmm…perfect; merciful. Two different things altogether, right? Maybe not so much. See, we tend to think of perfection as being without defect or flaw. That’s a place we’ll never get. But maybe Jesus equates perfection with mercy. And mercy is something that sounds like it could be a bit more within reach, doesn’t it? Maybe we could work on becoming perfectly merciful. Something to think about.
Father, you know that, apart from your grace, we can never be perfect. Teach us to be merciful, that we might grow in perfection today. Amen.