June 17, 20141 Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48
Guest blogger: smas
The second sentence of today’s Gospel begins with a small, interesting word … B-U-T. Usually an alternative or a contrast follows the word “but”, as it does in the Gospel today.
Jesus uses “but” to stretch the disciples’ beyond what they already know. At the time when Jesus lived … the Jews were an oppressed people … and it was pretty normal that they disliked their oppressors. That’s where Jesus steps in with a new perspective and directive … and He’s not at all shy about it!
Jesus tells them that what they know … “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” is no longer the acceptable norm … He stretches them beyond the easy … and says … “love your enemies and pray for your oppressors”!
Now, that’s a stretch!
It takes great generosity and unconditional love to do that. To help them along in this way of thinking and behaving … Jesus reminds the disciples of God’s unconditional love for them and the perfection of their heavenly Father.
Jesus holds His heavenly Father up as the ideal model. He tells the disciples to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
To be perfect is to be complete … balanced … unlimited.
To be God’s children … we must resemble the Father in our generosity and love.
May we each strive for that perfection.