Reflection on the Daily Readings for 3/07/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Sat. of first week of Lent. Deuteronomy 26:16-19.  Psalm
119:1-2.4-5.7-8.  Matthew 5:43-48. Lectionary # 230:

Jesus calls us to be holy and even "perfect". "You must be perfect as
your heavenly Father is perfect!"  Wow! What a challenge and yet look how
much we are valued.  Jesus knows we all are made within the image and
likeness of God thus he can call us to live up to those "givens." The word
used for "perfection" is telios. When used in reference to persons it means
they are full grown, mature, and complete.   Therefore, the word
"wholesomeness" is close to what Jesus is saying.  It also refers to our
purpose and goal in life and that we are striving to attain the end or
purpose in our lives.  Of course, Jesus likes to emphasize what he is
teaching and this too is part of the whole sermon on the Mount.  Luke's way
of looking at the same saying of Jesus has " Be merciful, even as your
Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36). Jesus thus raises the bar high for his
expectations of us, but with the grace of God and Jesus' exhortations to
live in that grace, we all can be "perfect" in the biblical sense of the

What is the test of holiness that Jesus is talking about?  Do we
really love those who persecute us or give us trouble?  Are we aware of the
needs of the poor, the young who are struggling with life issues, the
lonely, the aging? And do we do something with that awareness that benefits
them?   We all have the ability to respond to some of these needs that
others have. Wholesomeness is not in anyway connected with narcisim.

Now when we reread the first reading about observing God's
commandments, precepts, and statutes we are given some examples of how to
become "perfect" in the biblical sense of the word.  And then when we read
the longest psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119, we have a wisdom teaching that
is inspired.  We need small doses of this Psalm which has 176 verses, and
fortunately in the response and the verses chosen we have enough to pray
for and handle for this day.  Awareness and responsiveness to the calls of
God and Jesus are part of this "perfection" we are to live out.  Finally,
another verse or two of Deuteronomy comes to mind and it contains the whole
message of God for this day, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is
One. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
thy soul, and with all thy might...You shall walk in the way the Lord your
God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you,
and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall
possess." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; 5:30). Amen. Amen.