Jesus’ difficult teaching in the Sermon on the Mount continues. Today’s reading calls us to “Be perfect…as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Father makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on the unrighteous as well as the righteous. God loves and gives God’s gifts toall. As God’s children, we are tolove all,welcome all, give to all. We are not to judge who is worthy or not. A simple idea, but a difficult practice. Of course we can never be perfect, but as today’s painting’s title suggests, we are called to “approach perfection.” Contemporary artist Amy Cannady says that her process leaves “little room for dogmatic interpretation” and that when a work is done she “consider[s] the finished work a spiritual journey.” She writes, “I am contemplative by nature. When I paint, I want to invite the viewer along with me on the journey.” Her process of layering and reduction, using brushstrokes as language (“glossolalia”) conveys a sense of time, space, and ambiguity. Today, consider your life as a work of art, a process of layering and reduction through time and space and experience. What is happening in your life right now that is leading you to approach that perfection that Jesus describes?
The Holy Gospel Matthew 5:38-48
‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
‘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 children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 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 and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.