A Reflection by Sister Frances Briseño, OSB
I love this time of year in our Liturgical calendar! We are anticipating the season of Lent. The Sunday readings leading up to Lent call us to be our best selves; our true selves. We can’t help but read them without a reflective eye on ourselves.
On February 19, we read in Leviticus, “be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” This is followed by 1st Corinthians that reminds us that we are a temple of God and that the Spirit dwells within us and finally the Gospel of Matthew ends with “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” These readings might make us a bit nervous, but before we resist the message offered us through these readings, let us take a closer look at how all three readings challenge us to be who God created us to be.
Some of us get nervous when we are called holy. And yet at our baptism we hear the following prayer: “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into God’s holy people.” So we are reborn into God’s holy people as a holy child of God with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. The reading from Leviticus is merely reminding us of who we are in God’s eyes. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians makes it clear “for the temple of God, which you are, is holy”.
The reading from Matthew, “to be perfect as God is perfect,” makes most of us retreat from it because we know that there is no way that we can achieve perfection as we understand that word. The Hebrew word translated as perfect is tamim and means among other things, “whole, sound, healthful and having integrity.” The Greek translation for perfect is teleios which means complete and entire. God created us in God’s own image, that is God created us as “complete and whole” beings and placed a spark of divinity within each of us. The reading from Matthew challenges us to strive to be the person God created. All of us can strive for wholeness, for integrity, all of us can strive to become our best selves.