A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 5: 43-48:
Jesus said to his disciples:
43 You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How often have we heard of the sentence, ‘Nobody is perfect.”? We use it to excuse ourselves from mistakes. It has become a natural defense mechanism. When we are rebuked or reminded of our sins, we run to cover ourselves with this overused sentence, nobody is perfect. Why can’t we just be humble and admit our faults and weaknesses?
Perhaps what we so should always do is to ask this question, “As a follower of Jesus, what differentiate me from the rest?” The gospel reading above tells us exactly the answer, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. This is not to elevate ourselves and think that we are better or holier than others. In John 13:35, He made again this point. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The image of God is love and we were created in that image. Our life must reflect that image.
Indeed, Jesus expects the highest standard of morality from His disciples. That standard is no less than perfection. Light and darkness cannot mix. There is no middle ground. As long as we live in darkness, we cannot enter the heavenly kingdom. “So who can be saved?”, we ask. The question was already answered by Jesus in Matthew 19:26. He said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”