“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are is holy.” (1 Cor 3:16-17)
A story is told about two Buddhist monks who went to a river to cleanse themselves. One of the two monks noticed a drowning scorpion and so he scooped it out of the water to save it. Yet the scorpion stung his hand so that it fell again on the water. Again, the monk saved the scorpion while it repeated to sting his hand. The same pattern happened for the third time so the other monk, who was observing commented to him, “Why do you keep on saving that scorpion even if you know that it will just sting you again? Why don’t you let it drown itself?” And the monk replied, “The scorpion keeps on stinging my hand because that is its nature and it doesn’t know any better. I on the other hand must keep on saving it because it’s my nature to help. I must not let this creature which just acts its nature to prevent me from being who I am.”
Man was created in the image and likeness of God. Then, when he was disfigured by sin, Christ redeemed human nature and renewed it. Finally, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, human nature was empowered and elevated to live bearing the image and likeness of God.
“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” (Lv 19:2)
The Hebrew word for holiness connotes the meaning of being ‘set apart’. God as the Holy One, exists above and fully set apart from His creation. He is the epitome of freedom. Man bearing the image and likeness of God is also set apart from the rest of creation. Moreover, he was given freedom through which in this life he can be holy or ‘set apart’ from the rest, soaring above his environment and circumstances, ultimately carving his own destiny. God’s embodiment of freedom, above all, is His freedom to love, independent of merit and sin, of reward and punishment, a love freed from all selfishness that it respects the freedom of the beloved, thus enabling the beloved creature to freely choose to love and experience the glorious freedom of a child of God. True love can only come from freedom and this freedom allows us to reach our highest potentials and deepest desires. It perfects us so that we become independent from all corruption and selfishness and elevate ourselves from the endless cycle of retribution and retaliation in this world. Such that we truly become a child of God, and another Christ in this world that needs redemption from its self-bent destruction.
“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)
Perfection is a process that entails pain and suffering. Jesus himself knows and understands how difficult it is to obey the precepts he laid in the gospel today (Cf. Mt 5:38-48). But he has shown that it’s possible when he stretched out his arms on the cross. In this world where vengeance is extolled as justice and violence is promoted as a solution, we are challenged by Jesus to choose the better way: to destroy our enemies by love. In this vicious cycle of retaliation and retribution leading to our self-destruction, Jesus offers a path of recreation and renewal which will lead to conversion and perfection of society.
God has created us better than the rest of visible creation. Jesus has showed that we can be better despite our weaknesses and imperfections. The Holy Spirit dwells in us as in a temple for we are not mere creatures lying helpless to our circumstances and environment. We are better than these. We are free to love despite pain and suffering. We are children of God, brothers and sisters, despite our different races, personalities and beliefs. We are greater than everything that can divide us. We are meant to live the life of God-the glorious freedom of His children to love and be perfect.