Jesus didn't tell us to be perfect. He told us to be well rounded.



Saturday, 2/23/13

Although I lack the scholarly credentials for disputing with the translators of our English-language Bibles; as a concerned Christian, I have the right to object to translations that point us the wrong way.

Like, in Chapter One of Mark’s Gospel, where the Greek has Jesus telling the people to practice metanoia, which means turning-one’s-thinking-around, I resent our official translators making Jesus tell us to “repent.” Mark’s word metanoia has Jesus telling us to be better in the future. Their word “repent” twists Jesus around to telling us to spend time blaming ourselves for what we did wrong in the past.

Today Gospel from Chapter Five of Matthew presents us with another example of those translators putting their own spin on Our Lord’s words. Jesus told us to be teleos as our heavenly Father is teleos. When you look up the Greek word teleos you see that it means to be complete or well rounded. That fits in with the way Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount had been encouraging us to be whole people by practicing all the Christian virtues.

In 1983 Cardinal Joseph Bernadine of Chicago gave an address on our need for completeness, entitling his address "The Seamless Garment of Christ." In St. John's account of the crucifixion, he spoke of how Jesus had worn a garment which was so woven in one piece that the soldiers had no way of dividing it between them. Using that garment as a metaphor for practicing Christian virtues, the Cardinal taught us that instead of picking and choosing between the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, we should give equal attention to all of them. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant by saying we should be complete the way our heavenly Father is complete.   

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