'You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'
With such a challenge how did Christianity ever dwindle, as it often does, to being a mere morality or another ideology competing for world domination or even worse, a refuge for those fearful of the revolution of the spirit?
It is not just that ‘perfection’ is off-putting. In context the word refers to God’s boundless, non-judgmental love that is tested in human affairs by our capacity to love those who do us harm or reject us.
Perfectionism is a refuge for religion that does not want to understand this and that prefers the ego-satisfaction of making rules it takes pleasure in keeping and a perverse pleasure in breaking.
If God were as easy to understand as that we’d have an easier lot in life. There wouldn’t be the insatiable thirst that is at the core of human existence. But how can we endure an invitation to divinization from a stranger who won’t take no for an answer and comes back without shame for yet another rejection?
Jesus often got impatient with his disciples – ‘so slow to understand’. We see the same resistance in the time it takes many of us to understand meditation. There are many books and teachings that say meditation is good, of course, as a preparation for hearing what God has to say. This is a pious way of missing the point - not so different from saying that, yes, meditation is good because it makes us sleep better at night and reduces our cholesterol.
To get the point that God is the silence, that’s the point. Our mystical tradition teaches that. But it seems easier to go the more complicated route.
And why keep bringing meditation into it? Isn’t it worth repeating that there is a simper and more direct way home?
Laurence Freeman OSB