Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48This line is not in the readings for today but it is resonating with me because of a conversation I had with a new friend a couple of days ago. Perhaps because of my engagement with social ministry at the moment, I have been focusing on works of mercy and justice as the works of the reign of the Divine One in my life. Prayer and individual holiness have perhaps taken a back seat to a more proactive life in the world.
When he mentioned that his journey in faith had led him to focus on becoming perfect even though he knew that he could never be perfect in this life, it brought me up short. Had I shifted my focus from who I am to what I do? Unknowingly perhaps, but still. The dynamic is always from the inside out. What I do is to be a natural result of who I am and who I am becoming. If my work in the world becomes disassociated from that inner reality, it begins to be more of the world and less of the spirit.
Jesus' notion of perfection is not some individually focused holiness. The lines that precede the one above contain his aphorisms about going the extra mile, giving more than is asked for, and turning the other check. Perfection has to do with my being which then produces the fruit of mercy and justice, not in some forced way but in the same way that fruit appears on a tree: naturally and without external interventions.