Monday, February 17, 2014

Matthew 5:38-48

Year A - Epiphany 7 or Guiding Gift 7
February 23, 2014

You have heard a lot of things. I have heard a lot of things. Together we have heard much. For the most part we hear what our culture tells us. This is the water we swim in and we are receptive to its norms of what can be heard and said. That which is outside our culture base has a difficult time being recognized.

So we are thankful for travel. It exposes us to additional realities that begin to whisper about the strength and limits of what we know. We are thankful for people who disclose(t) what they are experiencing so they are less a projection of our own valuing or dismissing of them. We are thankful for teachers who lead us to simply listen before we react.

It is in this vein that Jesus is our travel guide, our scout into lives beyond our own (the universal ally), a teacher raising questions about the connection between our feelings and thinkings.

It is in this vein that congregations are to assist all the gifts present to be honored and enacted as well as be open for additional gifts they don’t yet know how to identify or know they need. If the common good is to grow more common it needs everyone to be a leader, to use their gift(s).

It will be important at this point to note that the word translated as “perfect” in verse 48 comes in both plural and singular fashions. When referring to an injunction to you to be perfect, it is plural. You are to do this “perfection” in union with others. When the body has assisted each part to be as whole and mature as possible, then we get to the singular “perfect” that describes G*D. This perfection is not some ideal, but a communal connexion that is deep and wide and ready to be more of both.

A key to the communal nature of the command to be “perfect” or “complete” is found in the other use of this word in Matthew, 19:21: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [KJB] (of course we will have to debunk “heaven” as being elsewhere). Until the common good is the background for our living, we are not maturing.

This same lesson can be learned just by listening to these various examples from another land; the land where G*D’s journey to wholeness (“heaven”, if you will) parallels our own and vice versa.

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