In the first reading today from Leviticus 19, the Lord says, “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”
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? 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.