So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. God alone deserves to be called holy. We are made in His image and likeness. God made us to be with Him through all eternity. We know that to be in heaven in the presence of the Most Blessed Trinity, we must be perfected in love. Only possible by the grace of God.
Jesus is calling each one of us to holiness – right now and each day of our lives. Holiness is a gift from God – not something we can achieve in our own. The Second Vatican Council taught that holiness is a universal call for both the priests, religious and all the laity.
Jesus in today’s gospel links holiness with love of our neighbor. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… The first reading from the Book of Leviticus does the same. Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
We have heard the golden rule. Treat others the way you would have them treat you. (Mt7:12) Jesus not only talked about love of our neighbor, but He lived it – giving us the example to follow. Don’t let evil defeat you; instead conquer evil with good. (Rom12:21) This is exactly what Jesus did. However, practically each day we will find it challenging to return kindness and love to our “enemies”.
How is it possible? Let’s consider St. Paul’s teaching in today’s second reading: Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? We think about the many ways that God is present in our lives. We do not want anything unholy to enter into our temple, thoughts, words or actions. A life in the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist is essential to stay on track to live the moral life. Then our hearts are pliable, able to cooperate willingly with the Divine Will.
May Jesus Christ, through Mary, grant us the grace to continue to strive toward the perfection in love that He wants for all of us!