Sunday, February 19, 2017

Homily for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A perfect game in baseball is very rare!  Professional baseball has been played now since the 1870's and it is estimated that almost 250,000 games are in the books.  That's a quarter of a million professional baseball games!  How many of these games were perfect games?  The answer is just 23.  The last perfect game was 2010.  It must take a lot of effort to pitch a perfect game!

A perfect season in the NFL since the Super Bowl era is very rare!  Since 1967, some 50 years, only the Miami Dolphins of 1972 have completed a perfect season.  While one team came very close a few years ago, the NE Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.  It must take a lot of effort to have a perfect season in the NFL!

Perfect defined reveals that all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics are present; it means to be as good as it is possible to be; absolute, complete!

Perfect is rare, perfect takes some effort, but, as people of faith Jesus calls us to be perfect, not just perfect, but perfect as His Heavenly Father is perfect!

We just heard the end of the first half of the Sermon on the Mount.  Over the past four weeks we have heard every verse of Matthew chapter five.  The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes, are the context for the call to be perfect.  We must have context because can we truly be perfect like God?  Jesus says we can, and God the Father calls us to be Holy, like He is holy in our 1st reading from Leviticus. 

You and I can never be God, we should never play God.  We must remember that we are the creature, not the Creator, we are all sinners, yet Jesus still calls us to holy perfection.  In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, we remember that Jesus fulfills the law so we still must be faithful to the 10 Commandments.  We remember that Jesus gave us the Beatitudes which calls us to a fuller response to God's love.  And the Sermon on the Mount reminds us time and again that God shows us His charity, His mercy and love. 

So Jesus shows us the way to perfection; no more eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth; which would leave us with a world of blind, toothless wonders.  No more hardness of heart, no more hatred of enemies.  Instead the path to Godly perfection includes turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, sharing your tunic and your coat, loving everyone, even your enemy!  This is the path of perfection.  Yes, we have rules and regulations, yes we follow the Commandments and many Church teachings.  If we do this only, follow the rules, pray our prayers but we do not strive for perfection in charity, mercy and love, as the Father is charity, mercy and love, than we are simply legalistic, like a Pharisee.  Strive then for perfection, for holiness, as God is perfect, as God is holy!

Sometimes we are given an example of striving for perfection from the news of the day.  Yesterday we found out that Norma McCorvey died.  In these past many years, Norma was a tireless pro-life warrior.  She was a born again Christian, changing her life from bad to good.  She turned to the Lord and followed the path to perfection.  She later would become a convert to Catholicism, still a pro-life warrior and devoted to the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother.  We may recall her though as Roe, of the horrific Roe v Wade.  Yes, in her previous life, she cared little for holy perfection and allowed her name to be attached to the worst court decision that allows a nation like ours to cavalierly murder our young.  But Norma put that life aside when she experienced a total metanoia and responded to God's invitation to be perfect in holiness.

If Norma McCorvey did this, we can too!

So forgive the one who has hurt us, feed the one who is hungry, give drink to one who is thirsty, clothe the one who is naked, visit those in a hospital, a nursing home, yes, even in prison.  Love your enemy, be kind, model Christ for others to see.

In the week ahead, inspired by the words of every verse from Matthew chapter 5, be perfect, be holy, wash someone's feet, love someone deemed unlovable, share Christ with others.

It will take a lot of effort, like pitching a perfect baseball game or completing a perfect NFL season.  These accomplishments come with notoriety or a trophy, our efforts to be perfect come with the promise of eternal happiness!

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