Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Call to Perfection

"You, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"(Matthew 5:48)

In yesterday’s gospel of Matthew God calls us to perfection,
"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-48)
This weekend both Gospels Saturday and Sunday call us to seek perfection.  Today the gospel was the transfiguration.  We know that contemplation of the transfiguration, which is the fourth Luminous mystery of the rosary, brings the fruit of desire for holiness.  We should desire perfection not only for ourself but the benefits it brings for those around us. Jesus tells Saint Faustina, 
Know this, My daughter: if you strive for perfection you will sanctify many souls; and if you do not strive for sanctity, by the same token, many souls will remain imperfect. Know that their perfection will depend on your perfection, and the greater part of the responsibility for these souls will fall on you. (diary 1165)
This is a consoling reality and and immense responsibility.  We may have dear people in our family who have not been given the gift of faith.  Yet Jesus tells us that our choice to seek perfection and holiness will carry them along with us.  We all know that the more time you spend with someone the more you assume their habits and disposition almost subconsciously.  Pope John Paul II in the Rosarium Virginis Mariae writes:
Pope John Paul II
In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other’s company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection.”
St. Theresa of Avila speaks also of how a young soul striving to approach the Lord more deeply, as personified by moving through rooms in a castle, will benefit from others who are on the same path.
It is a very great thing for a person to associate with others who are walking in the right way: to mix, not only with those whom he sees in the rooms where he himself is, but with those whom he knows to have entered the rooms nearer the centre, for they will be of great help to him and he can get into such close touch with them that they will take him with them”. (Interior Castles)
President Abraham Lincoln
The priest on Saturday, Fr. Sas had a wonderful quote that he used in his homily.  It was originally spoken by President Abraham Lincoln in response to criticisms that he was too kind to his enemies. “Am I not destroying my enemies by making them my friend”.  In the context of the Gospel from yesterday where Jesus calls us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” it is worth examining how we approach individuals who have hurt us.  It is my experience that the Lord often uses those whom we least expect to answer our prayers.  When you pray for someone who has hurt you and then months or years later you see them do something so lovely the joy is immeasurable.  These ways are not our ways by nature but when we turn ourselves over to the Lord and seek perfection they become our ways.  It is then that we feel the immeasurable joy and love of being the sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.

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