From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
Lectio Divina: “therefore”

Lectio Divina: “therefore”

Gospel reading: Matthew 5.43-end

[Jesus said] ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’


In the parable of the slaves (Luke 12.41-48), Jesus says, ‘From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.’ It is easy for me to apply this to myself. Much has been given to me, for example background, talent, education and opportunity. So therefore much will be demanded of me, in somehow using these to make a difference. And then I judge myself for not measuring up.

But that is seeing things in terms of worldly achievement. Because when God demanded it all, I gave it all up to follow and test a vocation to the religious life. Then I gave up the security of staying in community, and returned to live a simple life in the world. I by no means ‘do the same’ as I previously did, or as do the modern equivalents of the ‘tax-collectors’ and ‘Gentiles’ in the Matthew 5 passage. And I do hear God saying to me: ‘Because you have done this, therefore I will bless you.’

None of which is quite the context of ‘therefore’ in the passage, in which Jesus says, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

The Greek here is teleios, ‘having reached its end, fulfilled its purpose, complete’. So it is not in the slightest about being a perfectionist and doing everything perfectly. It is the perfection of being willing to give up my own ideas of what I should be achieving and of being of the same mind and following the Christ of Phil 2.5-11, who “being found in human form… humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore…”

As with a fortnight ago, it is still a work in progress for me. As it is for everyone. My prayer is therefore that we will all hear God saying to us, ‘Because you have listened to my voice and followed me, therefore I will bless you.’ Amen.


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.