Tuesday of Week 11 in Ordinary Time
1 Kgs 21:17-29
You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The calling on each of us who claim/desire to be a disciple of Christ is evident in those words. We are called to be perfect in our love of God, and therefore in our love of all people. Through the standard and person of Jesus Christ, we are able to see what that looks like in humanity — unconditional love for every human being. It seems impractical and impossible, doesn’t it, to be perfect? Yet as believers we know that with Him all things are possible. So will we trust Him enough to believe this?
Jesus said to his disciples, “You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven… For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not?”
So we are to greet and love everyone, not just our ‘own people’ if we choose to follow Christ. The rich and the poor, the believer and the ‘other belief’ believer and the non believer, the arrogant and the considerate, the intellectual and the uneducated, the wise and the simple, the thief and the jury, the giver and the taker, those in the walls of our home and those in the walls of every other home and building, those cruising the streets and those living on the streets, those working hard and those hardly working, the guilty and the innocent, those who praise our Lord and those who blaspheme our Lord, those who fled and those who stayed and prayed, those who washed their hands and those who washed His feet, those who nailed his hands and feet and those who consecrated his body, those on His right and those on His left. All those He died for, those ‘like us’ and those ‘not like us’. All. They are who we have been called to greet and love.
I especially appreciate the word ‘greet’. To greet is to be kind, to acknowledge. It can be easy for us to love from afar; after all, most people ‘not like us’ are far; but Christ takes us a step closer to himself by saying we are to GREET them. To me that means look in their eyes, see their humanity. See ourselves in them and see Christ in them. We are all the same. We are all doing the best we can based on how we came into this world, and how this world has supported or defeated us daily. We are all in need of Christ. And we are all in need of being greeted, of being acknowledged.
Jesus reminds us that we are not to judge, God is the judge “….for he causes the sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike.” Those are powerful words, poetic words, consoling words. Yet, we can become impatient with God’s timing. We can even stop trusting Him in this issue, or all issues, because we don’t see justice. We can take over and establish what we believe to be ‘real justice’ when we believe others are getting more than we are, more than (in our estimation) they deserve; more love or mercy or money, or fun or grace or forgiveness, or more luck. It’s just not fair…but, who are we to judge? We cannot see the future and we don’t accurately see the past, and even if we could, if we are trusting in Him, we are not to judge. If we are fully living our faith, fully living daily to know Him better, to serve Him better and to love Him better, we have no time nor desire to look to the right or the left to make judgments on anyone. When we are living with abandonment to God, we unknowingly love all those around us. In a brilliant book I have been studying, Jean Pierre du Cuassade states, “To the abandoned soul, the soul that trusts God, God is visible even in the proud souls who oppose Him. Every creature, whether good or evil, reveals God to him.”
I simply love that. That is the trust I am working to grasp and hold on to. That is the trust that Christ is asking of us. Only with that trust will be perfect.
(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: Father, we know that to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must love and trust beyond our human ability. Lord, help us to not give up on ourselves and to daily invite you to live fully in our heart, so that we can love our enemies too.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for showing us again and again that you love us and that You are trustworthy in all things at all times for all people.