One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
This is the first Commandment. It is the first not only because it is the most important but because it is the most difficult. All other commandments flow from this one. All other commandments depend on this one.
In the musical version of Victor Hugo’s classic “Les Miserable”, the character Jean Valjean sings one of the most beloved arias from the opera: “God on high, hear my prayer…in my need, you have always been there.”
Yes indeed, “In my need”, the Lord is and has and will always be there for me.
What makes God perfect is his unconditional love for me. All other things matter little in my eyes.
Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Did the Lord, when speaking these words, set us up for failure? No. But how can one be perfect as the Father? Am I missing something here? Yes. And it is the meaning of the word “perfect”. What does being perfect in relation to God mean? Maybe the Lord gave us a hint when he answered St. Peter’s question: “Lord, how often must I forgive?” The Lord replied: “Seven times seventy-seven times.” Could He have been any clearer? The Lord is not as interested that we forgive 539 times as He is that we be perfect (seven times seventy-seven = 7x77). Now you know why the devil is 666. He is perfectly imperfect for he lacks forgiveness and love.
For God, perfection is directly related to forgiveness, and Christ is pushing that we forgive “perfectly”…just as the Father forgives us.
Of course this is a challenge for all of us. I wish I could forgive others as God forgives me. I wish I could forget as quickly as the Lord forgives and forgets. But it’s not that easy. That’s where prayer comes in. That’s where the Sacraments come in. That’s where grace flows in! That’s why I must pray, and pray hard. That’s why being a Christian is not a one-night stand, but a marriage that lasts an eternity. That’s why being a Christian is not something I decided to do one particular day, but is something that must be renewed every single day.
Lent is all about rearranging my life and my priorities so that God ends up on top, number One. From there, everything else will fall in their proper place.
Resolution: Tomorrow morning I will say the Creed. I will say it every morning till the end of Lent.