“…be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect…” That seems like a tall order, trying to be perfect. And if you think of it as being without flaw, spot, or blemish, then you are correct. It is above our pay grade. But then again, “be perfect” does not seem like a suggestion. It appears it is a command from Jesus.
The word “perfect,” telios, is a Greek word which speaks of wholeness, a completeness, a certain end point, goal or destiny that is our calling. There is always a future element about it. “…be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our destiny, our divine calling – a project for this lifetime. A project that with the grace of God is ours to work towards, even if its fulfillment is in the life to come.
From the first Sunday of this year we have heard the divine calling. St Paul called us to it: “Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…and above all, put on love.” Each week there is a reading calling us to telios. The last few weeks we have heard Jesus’ lessons on discipleship in Sermon on the Mount. Lessons on going the extra mile, giving to those who ask, and more. All lessons in learning to be a disciple, to be complete.
Last week at the end of all the Masses, I described my divine call in this life – to be a priest. In fact, I asked your help as part of the Annual Pastoral Appeal, to support this annual giving to let my Franciscan brothers and I be priests. We are a work-in-progress, but called to that completion.
You are called in your life to your own telios, your wholeness, your own destiny in God. And we as a community of believers are called to be disciples working on telios, on being whole, on being complete. That is not just here at Sacred Heart in our ministry of hope, healing, help, and hospitality as we try to fulfill this divine destiny.
It is the work of the Diocese as they provide 2,000 units of housing or shelter for homeless men, women, families, veterans, fixed-income seniors, immigrants and refugees.
It is the diocesan Adoption Services that helped birth mothers and adoptive parents find a faith-centered solution to their situations.
It is the diocesan Foundations of Life Center’s Mentor Program – which, rather than describe – listen to the testimony of someone the program helped: “Before I came to FOL, I was at the end of my rope. My marriage had failed, I was alone, and I had no faith in myself. No faith in anything. I had thought about putting my son up for adoption…but through this program and through my mentor I understood that … my son was a gift from God” Two lives were saved.
It is Refugee Resettlement, the Pathways Program that stabilizes poor individuals and families in crisis, the Mobile Medical Clinic serving those without access to basic medical services, and it is so much more.
It is the Diocese doing their part in their work-in-progress, telios, putting “on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…and above all, [putting] on love.”
The Annual Pastor Appeal is our work to assist the diocese is being whole, being complete, fulfilling their part of the divine plan
And so, I ask you to make a gift. Just as you support your Franciscans in our priesthood, letting us be priests, please support the Diocese in helping them to fulfill their works of hope and mercy. Please give to the Annual Pastoral Appeal and help our sisters and brothers at the diocese “Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…and above all, put on love.”
Help them to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.