If I had gone to seminary earlier in my life I would have loved to study Greek and Hebrew. For even the little bit of Greek I studied with Jonathan Burke shed insight to the New Testament scripture. And I know that those of you who are fortunate enough to attend Kit Shank’s bible study group gain deeper understanding into the teachings by examining the translations. Sharon and Patrick Crandall gave Brother Dennis – therefor the Community as we hold all goods in common – a new translation of the bible called the Bibleotheca. It is exquisite and is meant to be read like a book without the distractions of scripture numbers. I highly recommend this elegant bible.
In the Gospel reading for this up-coming Sunday there is a word that really drove my New Testament teacher crazy - perfect. Perfect is of course unattainable so why would Jesus ask us to become perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect? The word in Greek is teleios and a much better translation of this word is - spiritually mature. Another way teleios is understood is that one has gone through the necessary stages to reach the end goal. The Greeks who brought us the Olympics understood something about striving for perfection – to work hard to achieve something great. So this is what Jesus is encouraging us to do.
In this Sunday’s passage, Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus instructs us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, reminding us that our Father in heaven sends rain on the just and the unjust. He instructs us that by sharing what we have and loving those who are difficult we will become full grown, especially in the completeness of Christian character.
Sounds like Radical Compassion to me. Not an easy journey, but certainly one we are called to.