BE PERFECT

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners:  Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  BCP 219

TEXT

Matthew 5:43-48 NRSV

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

John 7:1-9 NLT

After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

 

Read

It is one thing neither to be stung nor angered by affronts and insults, nor by temptations and trials, and another to be pleased by them. It is one thing to pray for the people who do such things, and another to love them with all one’s soul as benefactors, and still another to impress on one’s spirit the face of each one of them, and then, with tears of sincere love, to embrace them dispassionately as true friends, without the least trace of dislike making its nest in the soul. Greater, however, even than the last of which I spoke is it when someone in the midst of trials maintains an attitude of sameness and equilibrium with respect both to those who revile and slander him to his face, and to all the others who judge, or insult, or condemn him, or who spit in his face; and indeed, who remains so even with respect to those who bear themselves outwardly with an appearance of friendliness, but who, behind his back, practice the same things against him as the others, even though he is away of this, too. I am also of the opinion that there is a stage yet incomparably higher than the last: to have arrived at complete forgetfulness of whatever it is one may have suffered and never to recall it, whether those who have done the injury are present or not, and, in addition, to behave toward these people, whether in conversation or at table, as toward friends, without having any second thoughts. These are all the works of men who walk in the light.

— St. Symeon The New Theologian, “Fourth Ethical Discourse” On the Mystical Life

 

Prayer of Response

Holy Father, help us, by the power of your Holy Spirit, to love those that do us wrong and hate us. Teach us how to forgive and how to love our enemies. Help us to walk in the light of Christ loving all humanity without bias. Amen.

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