You shall be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
It sounds like Jesus is demanding the impossible. But is he?
Some dance around this text claiming that it says something about us being perfected. Not really, it is on one level simple:
Therefore you shall be perfect...
The word perfect however does not mean a person who never makes a mistake or is never wrong. The word refers to perfect in the sense we use it in grammer. It means complete, lacking nothing. The German text says vollkommen, voll meaning full.
Perhaps a good starting point would be to reflect on how perfect our lives are already. Ask yourself a simple question: What necessities of of life do I lack?
—On a purely material level, I have food, clothing, shelter, a job, and a means to get around, and the basic human freedoms.
—On a emotional level I have people I love and people by whom I am loved.
—On a spiritual level, I have my relationship to God, the ability to practice my faith, accesses to the sacraments.
When we look at the antitheses that precede the call to perfection – you have heard it said... but I say....— they show us the characteristics of the imperfect person: vengeful, angry, miserly, even lacking simply friendliness in greeting others. How much of this behavior comes from greed, envy, lust, gluttony? To put it more simply, how much of it comes from simply wanting what we do not need and being angry and jealous over what someone else has?
Step one for most of us is to simply recognize how perfect our lives are and be thankful.
Step two to learn to distinguish between what we need and what we simply want. Imagine if we could learn to be happy with the former, and stop yearning for the latter.
Step three, focus our attention away from ourselves. We are surrounded by those who do not have the basic necessities.
The perfection Jesus is calling us to is not some impossible, extraordinary condition. He became incarnate precisely to show us that it was possible to live perfect lives, complete lives. He and the Father sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live the lives to which we are called. If it were impossible, Jesus would not command it.
For what you have be thankful, and to those who do not have,give.