The Perfect End
In this weekend’s gospel, Jesus continues where he left off last week with more hard sayings about what it really means to keep the law. Just when we might be thinking that it is impossible to really keep the commandments, Jesus offers this consoling summation. “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Well, that certainly doesn’t seem to offer much comfort. Just in case there was any doubt, yes, Jesus wants us to be perfect. Yet, if we look at the Greek behind this word, perhaps we may still find some hope.
The Greek word translated as “perfect” is “telos.” It’s a world that means refers to the end or reason for something. A perfect bridge would be one that best achieves the end of what a bridge is supposed to do. A perfect human being is therefore one who lives in a way that is ordered to his or her end, his or her “telos.” Jesus is essentially telling us to live up to who we were created to be. We’ve got to know the purpose for which we were created if we are ever going to find fulfillment. We’ve got to know where we’re going if we expect to get there.
St. Paul gives us the answer in today’s 2nd reading. “Do you not know that you are temples of the Holy Spirit?” We were created to be temples of God. That is why Leviticus tells us to “Be Holy just as I your God am Holy.” We were made for holiness; we were made to be with God forever in heaven. That is our “telos”. If we know that this is our reason for existence then think how much difference it can make in our lives. Every decision now comes down to one question. “Does this help me achieve my end or not?” “Does this help me get to heaven or not?” If we want to be perfect then let’s choose the things that will get us to heaven. Now that doesn’t sound so impossible after all.