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Perfection ….Oh really?

This next Sunday’s gospel reading, for the sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year A, consists of four paragraphs setting out Jesus’ exacting requirements laid on his disciples regarding Anger, Adultery, Divorce, and Oaths. Heavy stuff, until we begin to read them in their context, as examples of a spirituality that is based on the central belief of God’s grace calling us to model our lives on nothing less than God’s own qualities. We are to relate to others as God relates to us. We do this empowered by his Spirit and following his Son’s example. If Jesus can do it, so can we. Now there’s a radical thought, as long as we don’t cling to a theological tradition that says our inherent sinfulness makes it impossible. Why not think that if Jesus tells us to do it, as his disciples, then he must think we are capable of following his example? Forget Augustine, the Reformers, and anyone else who contradicts Jesus. Just believe the gospel! Invent a new fundamentalism, maybe: one that believes anything is possible once God invites it to happen, including our transformation into a Godlike new creation. Paul called it growing up into the full stature of Christ. So let’s just read these “counsels of perfection” as liberating prescriptions of what is possible, then get on with our growing.
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Howard Pilgrim

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