ONE LEVEL HIGHER
There was a documentary on the believers of different religions in the Holy Land. The Muslims spoke about their pride in their faith. The Jews explained how special the holy city is to their creed. And a Christian, a Catholic nurse, shared how she felt about Jesus’ demands. While she believed in Christ with all her heart, she said that she could not understand why Jesus asked his followers this difficult challenge: when someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well (Mt. 5: 38-48). A bit laughing, she added that this would make the Christian’s head like a moving fan!
In today’s gospel, Jesus does really seem to be impractical. Instead of fighting, he counsels no resistance. Instead of keeping for oneself, he advises sharing all you have. Instead of hating, Jesus is firm on the wisdom of loving even those who do you harm or show you contempt.
But all these words have one goal, and that is perfection. The Lord Jesus is telling us that his followers are no longer just ordinary, common people of this world. They have been transformed. They are shining lights in their dark environment. They reflect the face, the attitude, the disposition of the One they follow. They are to be perfect, because their Father is perfect. Like Father, like children.
In many areas of modern life we are warned not to be mediocre or average. Walk the extra mile. Stretch yourself to the limit. Reach for the star. Go up one level higher. Give your best. (I-todo na iyan! I-level up na! Mag-buwis buhay na! - as they popularized in Tagalog.) And all these words are meant to encourage us to be our best and claim the gold at the end of the rainbow, in the realms of business, education, relationship, and dreams.
As Christians, we can be passive followers of the Lord. We can be nominal Catholics or Christians only. We can be cultural Christians only. But we will not truly become who we are intended to become – living images of the Father in heaven. Let us ask the Lord to give the grace to desire to live our faith to the full and to embrace the challenges that love, forgiveness and service place before us.