Mass Reading & Meditation for June 18, 2013
Meditation: Matthew 5:43-48
11th Week in Ordinary Time
Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Parents and teachers often encourage little ones by telling them, “Practice makes perfect!” A child cannot yet see that his two-finger plucking of “Chopsticks” can lead to his mastering Bach’s piano concertos. Even Bach once said, “There’s nothing remarkable about it. All you have to do is hit the right keys at the right time, and the instrument plays itself.”
In the spiritual life, too, it takes a great deal of practice to “be perfect.” But just what should we be practicing? We can’t possibly hope to always do everything right. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the key: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).
St. Catherine of Siena once ascribed these words to God: “I ask you to love me with the same love with which I love you. But for me you cannot do this, for I loved you without being loved. Whatever love you have for me you owe me, so you love me not gratuitously but out of duty, while I love you not out of duty but gratuitously. So you cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbors: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me—that is, love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself. And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me” (Dialogue, 64).
Jesus doesn’t want us to love begrudgingly, like the child who does not want to “waste” time practicing at the keyboard. Instead, he wants us to “test the genuineness” of our love by our concern for other people (2 Corinthians 8:8). So consider it an act of love if you put another first in even the smallest way. As we practice and practice and practice, the Spirit will come alongside us and give us the power to do what we could not possibly do on our own. And if you mess up, just keep trying. As you do, love will gradually become second nature, and you will become more like your heavenly Father.
“Father, help me to remember that my enemies are your friends. I bring their needs before you now.”
2 Corinthians 8:1-9; Psalm 146:2, 5-9