“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…
be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Perfectionists can breathe a sigh of relief. (Please do.) “Perfect”, in first century Aramaic means “complete” or “whole”. Be complete or whole just as your heavenly Father is complete or whole.
How can that be possible if we’re not God? (Breathe perfectionists.) Well, you can read/hear all sorts of pious things about the Cross of Christ. You can hear solid theology about the power of God to do in us what we cannot do in ourselves through grace. All good stuff.
But let’s be honest. We’re not God. Therefore we’re not complete. And the majority of us find that no matter how often we try or pray or make use of the Sacraments, we still find some places in our hearts where bitterness remains, anger smolders and hatred grows.
So how is it that I can love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me so I can be whole as my heavenly Father is whole? Well, I can try the standard ways that Catholic spirituality offers. And I should. But if you, like me, find that sometimes it’s just not enough, then I’ll give you my little secret.
My secret is not such a secret among 12-steppers. Many, who are not Catholic and know nothing of Catholic spirituality, find themselves following Jesus’ command above- even if they don’t believe in Jesus. They pray for their enemies indeed and do so right where they’re at because God wants truth and not posturing. What is their prayer? “God, give that son of ____ what they deserve.”
It’s not very pious but it gets the job done. What does each of us deserve as sinners before a perfect God? Grace and mercy. Forgiveness and love. But when 12-steppers acknowledge that they cannot do it in/of themselves, they call on God to do it for them.
Give them what they deserve. Mercy. And so they are set free and God decides how/when he gives them the mercy they deserve.
Unconventional but effective.
(Disclaimer: Tekton Ministries and Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land neither officially endorse nor oppose this prayer, nor does any of the 12 Step programs.)