Scripture: Matthew 5:38-48
Key verse: (48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reflection: Evagarius came up with eight of them and later Pope Gregory the Great condensed the list to seven. The list was the Deadly Sins, transgressions that hurt your spiritual life and relationship with others. Pride was considered the chief sin (how like pride to top the list) followed by envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth (how like sloth to be last). While this list is one to be avoided, it is yet so much easier to name than the seven Heavenly Virtues. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
(Faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance, prudence. Points if you could do this, I had to Google for what came after charity). While these lists are not found in the Bible they certainly are biblically based and commendable for their desire to see us grow in every good thing and to reject those things that will only stifle and suffocate us.
In James Conner’s engaging book on prayer and meditation Silent Fire he describes the deadly sins as baby sins. When a baby is hungry they do not care if you are busy, they will cry and be impatient and angry until you direct all your attention to them and feed them to their heart’s content. Afterwards, they love nothing better than a big belch, a long nap and the hopes of doing the same thing all over again. Though St. Augustine thought these actions made children ‘reprehensible” (Confessions p. 8) it only makes children what they are: children. Parents delight in the sounds of a happy baby and respond with love to the sounds of an unhappy baby. What makes the deadly sins baby sins however, is when the child grows into adulthood and does not leave childish ways behind. When we are grown but not mature we are destructive to ourselves and others.
Far from it being an impossible command it is a welcome invitation Jesus makes in the Gospel passage today. The word perfect is better translated mature or whole. ‘Grow up’ Jesus is saying and grow in to the mature, full, disciplined and gifted person that God created you to be. Every day we grow older but we can miss the opportunity to grow up and grow in to the image of God. With God’s help, may it not be so for us.
Prayer: Lord in whose image I am made, let me do all things today with grace and maturity, patience and wisdom. I will need your help. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved]