Perfect like “Our Father”

Towards the end of the daily breviary there is always a place to say the Lord’s prayer. There are any of a number of introductions that can be said but the one that we are all most familiar with is; “now let us pray as Christ the Lord has taught us.”

This teaching comes from Matthew 6: 7-15. The fact is that in this section of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus does a lot of teachings. Matthew chapter 5 starts with the beatitudes. And ends with: “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 sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This past Sunday the confirmation class was discussing this very verse. We had sort of gotten off topic when discussing Sunday’s first reading. Remember, that reading was about Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge. The general consensus, Sunday night, was that God knew that Adam and Eve would sin. One student ended up saying that God knew that they would eat from the tree, after all He does not expect us to be perfect. But there it is; Matthew chapter 5 verse 48. “Therefore, you are to be perfect.”
Not a lot of wiggle room there. Not sort of perfect, not half perfect and to make things worse it is not even human perfect. It is to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

You see, I think of this as being a harder bar to get over but the students felt that this made it easier. “How so?” I ask, and their answer was that God is love, He is perfect love, and all that we have to do to be perfect like God is to be perfect in Love! … “go on”, I said. Well you see that means that we don’t not have to be perfect in Math or English or Science. We do not have to be perfect in our chores or our homework. We don’t even have to be perfect in soccer or gymnastics or dance. We just have to be perfect in Love.

You know, they are right. In today’s Gospel Jesus started His teaching with two words. The two words that came to define and title the prayer says it all. He started with, “Our Father”. He started by making us all brothers and sisters. He started by making us all joined to each other and responsible for each other. His love, which defines Him, now defines us and the way that we should treat each other. If we are all brothers and sisters to each other through the birth, life, suffering and death of our brother Jesus Christ then we need to start acting that way.

Our endeavoring to be perfect has to start with our perfect love for our brothers and sisters through Christ.

The beginning of the Gospel reading starts with, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Your father knows that you need help in loving as He loves. It is real easy to love those that loves us, but we need help loving those that do not. It is real easy to love those that are nice to us but we need help to love those that are not.

There is a group that holds meetings in the parish hall every Friday evening. At the end of every meeting they for a circle, join hands and say a prayer. The prayer is different most weeks but one prayer comes up time and time again. They typically introduce the prayer by the leader saying three words. And through these three words all know the prayer and all know just what to say.

The leaders simply says: “Who loves us?” there is a pause and then everyone says …. “Our Father, who art in heaven …”

MT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

February 28, 2023

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