To read the texts click on the texts: Lev 19:1-2,17-18; 1 Cor 3:16-23; Mt 5:38-48
The readings of today can be seen to make four points. The first of these is the injunctions at the beginning of the First reading and at the end of the Gospel text of today. The command in the first reading is to be holy as the Lord is holy and at the end of the Gospel the disciples are called to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. On hearing these words, some might say this is impossible and beyond our reach and so must not be taken literally. However, if one realises that these words mean that we as disciples of Jesus are called to be undivided and unconditional in our love as God in Jesus is undivided in his love, then we know that not only is it possible to be like this but will also mean that we are true disciples.
Newton’s third law of motion states “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. However often this is not true when it comes to retaliation. Our reaction to the ill-will of others is often more than equal and opposite. If someone slaps us once, we slap them twice or more times in return. Jesus was a physicist quite different from Newton because he calls us not to be reactors but actors. In other words, he asks us not to retaliate, but to be so strong in our non-violence that the other will be brought to realisation, understanding and consciousness. To be sure this is an opposite reaction but of a different kind. Thus we are called to act rather than react.
Thirdly, the texts speak of love which must be unconditional. All too often, the love that we express is a love that is best termed barter exchange. We love only if others love in return, we give only to expect in return. The challenge is to love not only without expectation, but also in the face of ingratitude. We keep loving till we can love no more and then we love some more.
Fourthly, Paul in writing to the Corinthians and us by extension calls them and us ‘temples’ of the Holy Spirit. This means that Christians are persons in whom God must be seen to dwell and be worshipped. This is not a wish as far as Paul is concerned but a fact. It is God who graces us with his presence and thus being temples is a consequence of this grace and not a condition. Our response is to live out our calling. This calling may also be interpreted as being a contrast community which stands out by its manner of being and doing.
Then, we remain perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect and holy as God is holy.