Jesus says in the Matthew’s Gospel, “You must become perfect, as God your Father is perfect”. The really frustrating thing about being human, though, is that we never seem to “get it right”. We seem to keep making mistakes. Perfection just doesn’t seem to be within our grasp!
But if we take a closer look at St Newman’s quote above, we get a sense of what God’s call might be to us this Lent. For Newman, life is about change. It is never static. Every day, we face some old challenges and are introduced to new challenges along the way, which we try to tackle and grow through. There is always something to learn. And if we remain dedicated to a process of growth in our lives, we slowly become the persons God is calling us to be. To be perfect is to have changed often.
Importantly for us, God wants us to ultimately grow into the persons he is calling us to be. If we make mistakes and fall, God wants us to learn from our mistakes and to get up and try again. As Ezekiel says in the first reading today, “Does God not prefer to see the sinner renounce his wickedness and live?” And if we respond to God’s call and keep trying to choose life, he will always forgive us and support us as we learn along the way. Ezekiel puts these words into God’s mouth, “What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man?” God knows that sinful choices destroy his life in us. God knows that our only path to joy, peace and happiness is through the life that he has made for us. Because God loves us, God will never turn us away if we return to him after we make mistakes in our lives. He hopes that we will learn and grow. We can experience a thousand different setbacks on our journey towards wholeness and holiness. But as we get up and try again, God’s love and mercy are our constant companions along the way to perfection.