I don’t know about you, but I fall often grievously short of meeting these standards.
Perhaps few of us are exemplary in meeting all of these standards.
All of us, of course, are sinners – in desperate need of God’s free gift of forgiveness.
Yet all of us are also called to perfection: called and empowered by God’s grace in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:38-42), our Lord calls us to a high standard of forgiveness and generosity (which we must strive to answer while prudently fulfilling our true responsibilities for the protection and sustenance of others).
You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you,
offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you
on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you
over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service
for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back
on one who wants to borrow.
And in today’s first reading (2 Corinthians 6:1-10), Saint Paul begins by calling us to accept God’s gift of salvation and then goes on to describe the high standards to which he holds himself in his ministry: high standards to which we too should aspire.
As your fellow workers, we appeal to you
not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:
In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.
We cause no one to stumble in anything,
in order that no fault may be found with our ministry;
on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves
as ministers of God,
through much endurance,
in the Holy Spirit,
in unfeigned love,
in truthful speech,
in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness
at the right and at the left;
through glory and dishonor,
insult and praise.
We are treated as deceivers
and yet are truthful;
and yet acknowledged;
and behold we live;
and yet not put to death;
yet always rejoicing;
yet enriching many;
as having nothing
and yet possessing all things.