1.Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18
Gospel: Mt5:38-48

             " Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect."

There is a story of a man who appeared at the gate of heaven asking to be let in. St Peter asked him why he thought he should be let in. The man answered: " my hands are clean. " Yes," answered Peter, "but they are empty!"

We are being invited to grow from Christianity ethical point of view. Many people are being challenged by this Christianity ethics, since its moral guides are sometimes slow to lay down a clear minimum which people must achieve to be justified. However, Jesus asks for more. For example, " If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" What is so special about that? Jesus asks us to go one extra mile.  He told his disciples: "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Yet with those who tried and failed he was full of sympathy and compassion. He will never say "enough," but he will not reject anyone who has failed and comes back to him.

As we already now, some people see life in terms of survival of the fittest, or ' dog-eat-dog.' The world we live is full of wars and violent confrontations. We normally yield too readily to our instincts of aggression, whether it's the great aggression where nation confronts nation in a balance of terror, or violent confrontations between groups of citizens, or violence in the home. In our times we need education that can be used as a tool for solving both interpersonal and inter communal difficulties. The clear way for both Christian and non Christians to do that is to start learning about non-violent means of solving conflicts and hence they become peace makers.

We learn that mercy is God's principal characteristics. Our psalm, which comes from the Old Testament emphasizes that God is not the seeker of vengeance that many people imagine him to be. He is not waiting and anxious to punish each and every fault, but he is concerned only to remove our sins and to make us one with him.

We can understand the depth of God's mercy and love to us, when we reflect and meditate upon the  life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Jesus wants to join us with him for an eternity of fulfillment and happiness, God's compassion for sinful and unhappy humanity is the model of our compassion. St Matthew had said: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5:48), St. John said:  " God is love" ( 1 John 4:7). St Luke's report of Jesus' words is: " Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate."

Life is full of people with chips on their shoulders, real or imaginary, all waiting for a chance to get their own back. They carry their scars through life, refusing to let them heal until they have settled accounts. Feuds, vendettas, and grudges are nurtured in both religious and priestly formation, in parishes and even in families. Some are even passed down from one generation to the next. A colossal amount of energy and ingenuity is expended on settling old scores and exacting vengeance.  The lex talionis- " an eye for eye and tooth for tooth"- is alive and well thriving in every human environment, but nowhere more so than in the industrial world. Management singles out trouble makers for redundancy and if not redundancy is transfer to the environments that will not be favorable for them. Blacklists are always kept. Workers know where and when to call a lightning strike and who in management is to be sacrificed. Even in the corridors of power, in the velvet setting of plush boardrooms, the knives are long and sharp and are slipped between pin-striped shoulder-blades almost with a smile.

The Bible tells us otherwise. The Lord said to Moses: " You must not take revenge, nor bear a grudge against the children of your people." What is refreshing about today's gospel is that it recognizes us as we are, full of pettiness, exacting hurt for hurt, trading blow for blow. We all have enemies who persecute us. Letting them get away with it is not easy. Loving them is a call to perfection, to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.

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Chapisha Maoni