Peculiarly and Perfectly His Own
”As the children of God, we think of Him as a perfect, almighty, loving, caring and forgiving persona. We pray to Him to bless us and our food, and to fix our troubles. Will we ever become the grown-ups of God?” ~ Vinko Vrbanic
In today’s 1st Reading (Deuteronomy 26:16-19) Moses implores the Israelites to enter into a divine covenant with God, one in which they ardently strive to keep his statutes, commandments and decrees, and to “hearken to his voice.” In doing so, in making themselves a people “peculiarly his own,” the Lord will raise them high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations he has made. They will, as Moses concludes, become a people who are indeed sacred to the Lord.
“Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord“ proclaims Psalm 119, “Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.” As my Pastor is always quick to point out when reflecting upon passages such as these, the opposite of blessed is cursed. Those who oppose or flout the law of the Lord are most certainly cursed, not because God is cruel or vengeful, but instead because their actions fly in the face of the natural order of things.
God’s laws and precepts are given to us as a gift and out of love, for they serve as the roadmap that leads to eternal life. Somewhere along the way however, we‘ve been duped into believing that God’s ways are restrictive, that they encroach upon our freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want. It’s as though some believe that God, who out of love created everything out of nothing, is looking down upon his beloved children and thinking to Himself “They’re having way too much fun down there. I must put an end to it by implementing a series of oppressive rules designed to rob them of their joy.” Yet those who live a life rooted in obedience to the Commandments exude joy.those who do not are, by and large, miserable.
During this Lenten Season, perhaps it’s a good time to reflect upon those instances when we have strayed from God’s ways. What was the outcome? Did it lead to the “freedom” that we had hoped for or expected?
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:43-48), a passage that was chosen for Daily Mass less then two weeks ago https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/On-Being-Perfect, Jesus challenges us not only to love our enemies, but to “be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
Perfect? When the objective is to emulate Jesus, the goal could be nothing less.
Yes, God requires perfection in order to enter into his Heavenly Kingdom. We either errantly seek to find that perfection in ourselves or we find it somewhere else, in someone else. That someone is Jesus. If we think we can find it elsewhere, we delude ourselves, and the truth, as John the Evangelist tells us, is not in us (1 John 1:8).
The next chapter of your life, a life rooted in a deep and profound relationship with Jesus, is there for the taking. But you cannot begin the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one. We must move beyond our sin and resolve to strive for perfection. What Jesus cares about is that we try, seeking to receive his grace with a trusting heart. Lent is an opportune time to cultivate a sense of spiritual detachment, of surrendering our worldly worries to God with full and total confidence. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
I leave you with the prescient and Sage words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who said “The highest perfection of human life consists in the mind of man being detached from care, for the sake of God.”