Mt. 5: 38-48
In our last Sunday’s Gospel we were taught that laws are not made for our own benefit but for the common good. It is part of our nature as humans to observe the laws which are implemented in the place or group to which we belong. Humans are called to respect the laws, like Jesus respected the laws that were implemented by the Jews. Jesus said that He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He remained faithful to the law because it is founded on love and came directly from the Father. He teaches the disciples the importance of relationships with others that reflect the relationship with God by observing the human law with the respect of the spirit of the law.
The gospel for today is one of the most challenging passages to follow. Jesus is challenging us to go out of our comfort zone. Imagine: offer no resistance to one who is evil, turn the other cheek if someone slaps you, and the most difficult: love your enemy. Jesus’ commandment is truly challenging. Why? Because as human we tend to seek revenge, sometimes we want to get even, and we just want to give the minimum because we don’t want to suffer.
Similarly, the last sentence “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” is difficult to obey. That is why we have the saying: Sorry, tao lang, nagkakamali! (Sorry, I am only a human, able to make mistakes!). It is an acknowledgement that it is difficult to follow this directive. If we want perfection in an instant and absolute, this commandment is difficult to follow. Not only this, but being merciful, being forgiving, and being holy become impossible for us, humans.
Today’s gospel is part of the Sermon on the Mount, same as last week, which gives a beautiful code of conduct for the believers. But this law is meant to have us develop a good relationship with others. As Jesus taught us, we need to go the extra mile in obeying the law. Both the first reading and the Gospel today give the same message: to be perfect like God and holy like God is to love and care for others. God showers rain on the just and unjust, to us and to our enemy. It is a good reminder for us to be like God: to show mercy to all, to help all, even those who have deeply hurt us. We even need to show concern for those who do not show concern to us.
This gospel calls us to readjust radically how we live. We are not to be satisfied with minimums, not to be contented in socially accepted ways of responding to others, not to be limited in our loving. We readjust our way of living by paying more attention to the way Jesus himself lived. The poor, the sick, the victims of injustices, the oppressed, the needy, our enemies, and those who persecute us are waiting for our help and care. Also, our family, friends and colleagues are waiting for more of our time, love and care. This is how, concretely, we respond to Jesus’s command to be perfect.