Poverty and generosity seem like they should be worlds apart. After all, if someone is living in poverty, how can they be generous? They have so little to begin with. Actually, poverty and generosity work hand in glove. If we’re in tune with God, there is truly a cause and effect relationship. Our poverty actually causes us to be generous. That’s what happened in Macedonia, as St. Paul tells us in today’s first reading from 2 Corinthians 8. Check it out!
In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 5, Jesus gives us more difficult fare. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” As if that’s not hard enough, He then puts the topper on it all. “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Seriously?? Yes, seriously. The equation is really quite simple. As Christians, we are called to imitate Jesus. Jesus is God. Therefore, the more closely we imitate Christ, the closer we come to God’s perfection.
This is the kind of perfection we can never fully achieve here on earth. But we should always be striving for it, practicing to attain it. Let me use a sports analogy. The gymnast that performs a perfect routine and receives all tens from the judges has achieved perfection, if only for a brief moment. But leading up to that moment of perfection were years of hard work and plenty of failure. So it is with us. If we keep trying with a pure heart, eventually God will give us glimpses of how we can achieve that perfection. Seems the old axiom is true: practice makes perfect. I guess that’s why they call it practicing religion.
Father, you know that we are so far from perfect, and yet you call us to continue to strive to achieve that perfection. Today, may we practice imitating Christ, that we may be perfect in your eyes. Amen.