My Thoughts on 15/06/2021

The last sentence in today’s Gospel is Jesus saying “You must be perfect just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

I am sure when we hear these words we might think: “Well, that’s never going to happen”.

The only person I know who is practically perfect in every way is the fictitious Mary Poppins. Paula Goode, in her reflection on this verse says “I don’t think that what Jesus was asking from us is perfection. He was asking a lot, but not that. It is interesting that all the translations stick with the word ‘perfect’ for Matthew 5.48. As someone pointed out to me recently, this is probably a legacy from the Vulgate which translates the Greek word into Latin as ‘perfectus’ (though even that word doesn’t quite have the sense of being without flaws that our English word has). The Greek word here is ‘teleios’ and it can mean ‘perfect’ but is more usually used to refer to ‘maturity’ or ‘wholeness’.

One of my favourite books of Thomas Merton is “Seeds of Contemplation”. Early on in the book he reminds us that we are called to be the person that God created us to be. Our life is discovering our real identity, that is the person God created us to be. “The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God.” Our perfection comes from Being at one with God.

St Paul gives us a image that I used on my ordination card forty six years ago. “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” Paula Goode says “Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians is that our cracked imperfect exteriors are nothing to be ashamed of — they are vital. A well glazed pot keeps the light in; only a pot riven with cracks can shine God’s light in the world. The cracks let the light out. When I have spoken about this in past people have brought to my attention Kintsugi pottery. Kintsugi pottery is a Japanese practice which mends broken pots with gold or silver so that that resulting pot is more beautiful than the one that broke. We are called to be who we are with all our cracks and imperfections”

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest