Our Best Efforts

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home Depositphotos_26747363_m-2015.jpg

February 24, 2019 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:27-38

In today’s gospel we find the well-known Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have them do unto you.” And it also contains some rather difficult challenges. Here are a few of them: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Lend to others whatever they ask and expect nothing in return. Don’t judge and don’t condemn others. Forgive everyone. No exceptions.

Taken together, these demands are among the most difficult of Jesus. Some would say they are impossible to enact. But wait. More must be said because in no way should they be dismissed, or worse, ignored. That’s because Jesus said that’s the way God is. Our God is absolutely kind to all and more merciful than we can imagine.

But you may say that we are not God, and that is so true. Nevertheless, we’re called to be like God as much as we can. Which we can never do perfectly. However, we can move in that direction. We can seek “perfection,” knowing full well that we will never fully achieve it. And God does not expect us to be “perfect.” But God does hope that we will try!

There’s an old saying: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There is much wisdom in that statement. For our lives here are never perfect. We are limited in what we can accomplish. We never can find a final answer to our deep questions. But we can always improve on what we attempt. In fact, that is our fate. We will always be in a condition of trying to be better, while knowing that whatever our achievements, there is always room for improvement. Such is not a failure on our part. It’s simply our human condition, one fully blessed by God. So, no perfect marriages or families. Or anything other than God.

Take the invitation of Jesus to forgive others. We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Our strong belief in God’s forgiveness gives us the reason and the power to forgive others. It is one of the ways in which God’s presence and grace become real in this world. Are we able to forgive as much as God forgives? Not really. Perfectly? Not in this life. But we can try. We can do a little better today than we did yesterday.

Our lives are filled with challenges. Opportunities for even small acts of forgiveness come to us at home with our families, at work with co-workers, in our neighborhoods with neighbors, or even with strangers. All we can do (which is important!) is to try.

©David M. Thomas, PhD