Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:43-48
43 "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Old
Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-19 16 "This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances; you shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared this day concerning the LORD that he is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his ordinances, and will obey his voice; 18 and the LORD has declared this day concerning you that you are a people for his own possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19 that he will set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he has spoken."
What’s the distinctive feature of Jesus' life and the life of those transformed by his redeeming love? It's grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. Jesus is God's grace incarnate.
His love is unconditional and is wholly directed towards our good. God is good to all, the just and the unjust. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. That's why Jesus willingly went to the cross for our sake, to free us from the power of sin, ignorance, and prejudice. God's grace sets us free from everything that would keep us from him and his love. How can we possibly love as God loves and overcome evil with good? With God all things are possible.
He gives grace in abundance through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who converts our hearts and minds and teaches us how to live according to God’s truth and love. Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect?
The original meaning of "perfect" in Aramaic is "completeness" or "wholeness" – not lacking in what is essential. God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to carry out his will and to live as his sons and daughters.
He knows our frailty and sinfulness better than we do. And he assures us of his grace and help to follow in his ways. In the cross of Jesus we see the way of perfect love.
Do you want to grow in the knowledge, wisdom, and love of God?
Ask the Holy Spirit to set your heart on fire with the love of God.