Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Readings: Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Matthew 5:43-48
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
The irony of Jesus’ insistence on perfection is that it serves to highlight our imperfection. With that single instruction, Jesus does something that even the toughest of the Old Testament prophets had not done: he made it impossible for us to live the life God wants for us by our own efforts. We can be as idealistic as we like, but perfection is beyond us. For that, we need God.
There is nothing wrong with ideals. They can take us a long way, and they give us the impetus to set out on the journey of faith. However, the time will arrive when, often through bitter experience, we learn that our ideals can only take us so far.
St Paul is an example of this journey from idealism to Christian realism and humility. When Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, he was a man who had encountered his weakness (see Romans 7:15 – 25) and had learned to see his relationship with God in Christ differently as a result. In chapter four of his second Corinthian letter, Paul reflects on his experience of being but a ‘clay jar’ containing a treasure much more valuable than he had a right to contain. In doing so, he highlights a particularly Christian perspective on the role of weakness and struggle in the spiritual life.
Our imperfection does not of itself separate us from God. Our wounds do not alienate us. God can use clay jars if they are offered to him. In fact, he delights in using them.
Reflection by Shane Dwyer.
Reproduced with permission from Evangelisation Brisbane, an agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, who have kindly supplied these daily Lenten 2021 reflections from their publication Look to Jesus: 52 Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter.