Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection June 18, 2024


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R/. Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. A new commandment I give to you, says the Lord, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour 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 do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, 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.

1.      “You be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”, exhorts Jesus in the gospel. He proposes God the Father Himself as the model of perfection. Perfection is a catchword and is the target and goal of many. Many aspire to and strive for perfection. But mostly it is a perfection concerning worldly matters and interests.

2.      Mostly, people seek perfection in intelligence, competence, talent, and skill. Accordingly, perfection is equated with excellence and success. One is perfect when he excels and succeeds in a particular aspect or field of life. The problem with this kind of understanding of perfection is, that it is very partial, limited, and shallow.

3.      For example, one may be perfect in his job, profession, business, art, or capacity. But he may be miserably imperfect and morally inadequate in the other details of his life. That is why they are not worth-imitable for a holistic life.

4.      It is in this context, that Jesus places before us the model par excellence – God Himself. In which way God is perfect and His perfection is the model? His perfection is holistic. It is a perfection of virtue and value. A concrete instance is seen in the first reading in the case of king Ahab. Ahab got an innocent Naboth murdered and grabbed his land. So according to the principle of justice, Ahab deserves to be punished.

5.      But, when he repented, God’s mercy forgives him and spares him. This is the real perfection that harmonises justice and mercy. Jesus further clarifies this in the gospel. It is a perfection of love that loves even the enemies, and prays even for those who persecute us. It is a perfection that greets and is courteous even to strangers. It is a perfection that is equitable to all without any discrimination because He lets His sun shine and rain fall both on the just and unjust. It is a perfection that does good selflessly without expecting any return or reward.

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