Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can he really ask that?

Today's gospel ends with the command to be perfect. Can Jesus really expect that from us? The answer is a simple yes.

Perfect here means more that just moral rectitude. It is rooted in an older meaning of the word. It mean to be whole or complete. These may at first seem like different definitions but beneath the surface they are linked.
If we look at any of sins, we look behind any of our sins, especially the ones we tend to repeat, what we will find is our own brokenness. If we dig down inside ourselves to look for the root of a sin we find some emptiness, some wound, some hole, we are trying to fill up. Scratch the surface of the cockiest person at work, and you will find an insecure soul. Envy, greed, lust are all attempts to fill a void.

Avoiding sin is not simply a matter of forcing yourself to overcome temptation by shear will power. To truly avoid sin we must acknowledge whatever is incomplete, imperfect, in us and we must allow God's grace to fill in the fissures. We use the image of a wound to talk about sin, not just because sin creates wound in our relationship with God and others, but because sin rises out of wounds.

In the sacrament of reconciliation we must name our sins. But can we also name the brokenness in which they are rooted, and allow God's grace to fill those spaces so that we can be whole, be complete, be perfect.