Today’s Gospel gives us the final verse of Chapter Five of Matthew’s Gospel. It is a chapter that presents the core of Our Lord’s New Law.
It goes worlds beyond the Ten Commandments with it eight Beatitudes. It tells us as Christ’s followers we must be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
In six comparisons known as the antitheses it spells out moral advances. It is no longer enough for us to avoid adultery, we must avoid lust. It is no longer enough for us to avoid murder, we must avoid hated.
In today’s final verse of that great chapter, Jesus seemed to say, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I say, “Jesus seemed to say.” However, writing his Gospel in Greek, Matthew quoted Jesus as saying we should be teleios as our heavenly Father is teleios.
That word teleios really means well rounded or complete. None of us can be perfect the way the heavenly Father is perfect. However, within the limitations we are born with, we can each make a stab at being well rounded and complete.
One of Vatican II’s final sixteen documents dealt with the goals of Christian education. It says the teacher’s mission is to assist each student in fully developing his or her personality. Each of us is born with a store of potentials. The goal for each of us is that of developing each potential to its fullest. We have potentials for health, for learning, for spreading friendship, for knowing God.
Perhaps contemplative monks and nuns can lead lives in search of perfection, but the goal for any of us must be that of being a person fulfilling his or her potentials.