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"Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Say, Thank you again for sending me Father Michael's sermon - 'We can never have enough of Holiness' in As you know I wrote back immediately that I did not quite concur with Father Michael on various grounds, and promised that I would write a full discourse after I attended Sunday Mass and see what Father John had to say on the gospel reading from Matthew 5:38-48. Here goes! Father Michael wrote - 'For a Christian, the way to reach perfection is to strive for holiness. Perfection and Holiness are synonyms.' I disagree. To be a Christian has nothing to do with 'perfection' or being 'perfect'! And even if one were to strive for 'perfection'; 'perfection' has nothing to do with 'holiness'. I repeat, to be a Christian has nothing to do with being 'perfect' or being 'holy'! I know the four gospels inside out; in particular the actual words of Jesus, coloured in red in the Catholic Bible; and there is nowhere, that I can think of, that Jesus preached about 'perfection' or 'holiness'. Christianity is not about achieving sainthood! We are not all Mother Teresa! The essence of being a Christian is to understand 'Filial Piety' and the Spirit Father's undying unconditional love and forgiveness for his errant delinquent prodigal spirit sons. It is all about love and compassion and forgiveness and reconciliation. Nothing more! We have to get back to a situation where we are like 'little children' in our father's (or parents') eyes, mind, heart and soul; and conversely, we as 'little children' are totally absorbed with our parents, with all our mind, heart, body and soul. On my recent trip back home I observed Kelvin and Chantelle and their two children. This is what Christianity is about spiritually or in the 'spirit' - a father's unconditional love for his little child and a little child's filial love and piety for his father. And this is what St. Paul meant when he said that without love you have nothing at all followed by the famous literary line - 'Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.' [1 Corinthians 13:4-8a]. Repentance, atonement and redemption therefore have nothing to do with perfection! Repentance is not penance. Penance is what would naturally happen as a matter of the law of you reap what you sow, as to whether you are ascending or descending Jacob's Ladder, in any existence. In redeeming ourselves, in turning over a new leaf, in being rehabilitated, does not change our prison record, does not wipe off the sins we have committed, and our victims cannot pretend that they have never ever suffered or were never ever hurt. It is all about redeeming prospectively. The past and what happened in the past is just water under the bridge. Repentance and redemption and atonement are about not continuing on the same path. It is about not repeating the same mistakes. It is about not repeating the same sins. It is about a change of direction. We cannot go back in time. It is about turning our life around. That turning around, that change in direction has nothing to do with perfection at all! It is about being lost then found, about being blind but now see, about being a wretch but am now saved, about being an unfilial son but now returning home. It is about turning from the 'goat' in us to the 'sheep' in us. It is about leaving the mortal being as a human to an eternal being in the spirit; that we were and have been and are since the beginning of time, before the Fall of Adam.

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Just like the Father takes back his lost prodigal son with total unconditional love, God takes us back just as we are, sinners, warts and all, because in the 'spirit' we are all already 'perfect'. Just like every mother's child, every father's son is 'perfect' in her or his eyes! That sort of 'perfect' has nothing to do with any standard of perfection or holiness! In fact that sort of 'perfect' is a sort of 'perfect' beyond human scope of objective evaluation, measurement or appreciation or explanation, beyond saying that it is intuitive and intrinsic in every parent. It falls within the category that says - 'love is blind!'. If this was not the case Pope Francis would not have recently said that God's salvation would also extend to atheists! For whether atheists or sinners, as children of God, as spirit sons of God, as lost 'sheep', we are all 'perfect' in our Spirit Father's eyes. Let me explain. Our sins, warts and all are in our lost-ness in our 'goat' being or son of man, son of Adam being, within which we can never be perfect in the 'flesh'. No 'flesh' can be perfect. Flesh is flesh, Spirit is spirit! We all 'sin' in the 'flesh' and it is because of our 'flesh' that we sin! There is none that was or is born of the 'flesh' that has not sinned! Even of the three humans that were not born of the 'flesh', Adam, Eve and Jesus; only Jesus was and is of no sin! That is the hard fact of (worldly) life! None of the bible characters that were Jesus' companions were perfect in the 'flesh' - Mary Magdelene, the prostitute, St. Peter who denied Jesus three times, St.Thomas who doubted him, the robber on the cross at Calvary Hill etc. If they were perfect they must have been perfect in the 'spirit' son of God, in the 'sheep' in them, just like the Good Samaritan might be regarded as not perfect in the 'flesh' or race, he however must have been perfect in the 'spirit' to epitomise what a good Christian should be like. You are perfect in the 'spirit' when your 'spirit' is no longer 'separate' from God. That is the only (spiritual) sin that God is worried about. Spiritual reconciliation is when you are no longer spiritually 'separated' from God! Spiritual reconciliation is when the Good Shepherd is reconciled with his lost sheep. Spiritual reconciliation is when the Spirit Father is reconciled with the spirit sons of God! Stop being a 'goat' stubbornly seeking God. It is only with a worldly 'goat' mind that you concoct standards of perfection and holiness that you wrongly conceive will give you sainthood or salvation. It is God that is seeking the 'sheep' in you, the 'spirit son of God in you. Why should or would the Spirit Father seek other than his own sons? When God, the Good Shepherd looks for his sheep, he does not see our human exterior, his x-ray eyes see right through us to our very soul. God sees us, when he seeks us, only when we have the light of God, the lamb of God, the spirit son of God in our very soul! If God as the Light of the World is looking for the light of the world in us, the 'sheep' in us, how is it relevant how perfect our worldly state as ('goat') humans is? We are all sinners (in the flesh) as humans, as mortals! But we come as we are (the 'sheep' lost within the 'goat'; the spirit son of God lost in the 'sinner' that is the son of man)! Remember the hymn? Come As You Are by Fr. Paul Gurr, O.Carm. Come as you are. Thats how I want you. Come as you are. Feel quite at home. Close to my heart, Loved and forgiven, Come as you are, Why stand alone. No need to fear, Love sets no limits, No need to fear, Love never ends. Dont run away, Shamed and disheartened Rest in my love, Trust me again. I came to call sinners, Not just the virtuous,

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I came to bring peace, Not to condemn. Each time you fail, To live by my promise, Why do you think Id love you the less. Come as you are, Thats how I love you, Come as you are, Trust me again. Nothing can change the love that I bear you, All will be well, Come as you are This is the essence of Jesus' call to Zacchaeus, the tax collector, in Luke 19:5 - "Zacchaeus' make haste and come (as you are) down, for today I must stay at your home." Zacchaeus replied [Luke 19:8] - 'Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.' To this Jesus exclaimed [Matthew 19:9] - "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save those which was lost." The Good Shepherd has come to seek and to save his lost 'sheep'! If God came to save 'perfect' humans, Jesus would not have declared in Mark 2:17 - "Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Substitute 'perfect' for 'righteous' in the foregoing message, and you will get what I mean. Moreover God doe not judge! The father did not judge his lost prodigal son! Jesus did not judge the adulteress who was stoned! In fact Jesus said in Luke 6:37 - "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven." It is not about judgment as to whether a sinner is now perfect but instead all to do with forgiveness and reconciliation. To be perfect in spiritual qualitative terms as distinct from worldly moral terms is to not judge, to not condemn and to forgive. For how else, would you be able to love your enemies, love your neighbour as you love yourself and to love God with all your mind, body and soul? When you have to gauge whether you are 'perfect' or 'holy', implicitly and intrinsically you have an 'ego' of self. That was cause of the Fall of Adam! With an 'ego' how can you love God with all your mind, body and soul? Father Michael also wrote - 'They fail to understand Gods grace and the nature of His unconditional love. They forget that perfection belongs to God alone, but the story doesnt end there. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die as a perfect sacrifice for sin. This is the glorious message of hope and grace in the gospel. Though we sin, though we are flawed, we can be forgiven, saved, sanctified, and perfected. St Paul assures the Philippians in Chapter 1 verse 6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Christ completes us. Paul reminds us that perfection and the call to holiness isnt a singular one-off event but a process of sanctification as we continue to learn to walk in the path of Christ. Perfection is never possible by our own efforts, thats the illusion posed by perfectionism. Perfectionism can indeed be an obstacle to perfection in holiness. This is because it prevents us from allowing God to perfect the good work he has begun in us. Thus, we should struggle against perfectionism, yes, but always be ready to embrace perfection, especially in the area of spiritual excellence.' This idea of God perfecting us to be 'holy' is sheer nonsense on the part of St. Paul. That would imply that God's creation was not perfect in the first place! Perfecting what? No matter how you perfect the 'goat' in man is, he is not going to be perfect! God created the 'sheep' not the 'goat' in man; which only came about because Adam tasted the Tree of Knowledge, and wanted to make an 'idol' of himself; which resulted in his exile, in his Fall, and thus he became the 'goat' of a mortal man. The Good Shepherd is only looking for his lost sheep. The sheep might be 'lost' but the 'sheep' as the 'spirit son of God' is already perfect in its splitting image of God! There is nothing to

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perfect! There is nothing to perfect in the vagrant lost prodigal son. The Father loves the son just the same, for that is how the unconditional love of a father works! Accordingly, the concept of objective varying or progressive or graduating standards of perfection, through a continuing process of sanctification, whereby God continues to work on us, does not apply to/in the context of the 'spirituality' that is 'filial piety' between the Father and his Lost Prodigal Son. God is perfect in the sense that God is beyond any worldly standards. God is perfect in every sense because God is beyond compare! God is inconceivable and ungraspable in worldly terms or by a worldly mind. God can only be perceived with spiritual wisdom when you are awakened in your spirit. He is the Spirit Father after all! The fact that you have to be baptised by the Holy Spirit, which means you have to awake in your 'spirit', to be perfect is not a standard of perfection or holiness as such. It is simply the Gospel Truth! God is perfect in his undying unconditional love as a Spirit Father; and in his eyes (as a father) we, his spirit sons of God, are therefore perfect in every way and sense. It is in this sense and context that we are 'perfect' just as God our Spirit Father is perfect. Father Michael was also interpreting out of context. Here 'perfect' in this context of Matthew Chapter 5 refers to the 'quality' wherein you have to love your enemies and treat friend and foe alike, just like the sun shines or the rain falls equally on everyone [refer Matthew 5:43-45]. That sounds and seems to me more like a sense of equanimity or equa-empathy or love and kindness and compassion towards all people, whatever their quality, 'type of perfection' rather than a personal holiness 'type of perfection'. It is about giving, forgiving, not retaliating, not judging (whether of oneself or others or of each other's perfection or lack thereof) and loving another regardless of what his race, colour or creed is. You cannot do this unless you 'get out' or 'let go' of your worldly self and ego; and in your 'spirit' get into the spirit of things. Perfection is in the spirit and therefore you can only be perfect in the 'spirit', in the 'sheep', in the son of God in you! To be 'perfect' here, is more like not worrying about what you eat, drink, wear, as in not worrying about worldly standards or worldly life or worldly ego, sort of perfection. For you are already perfect when you decide to 'change direction' and return home in the spirit to the Spirit Father as you (the son of man) are, for no questions will be asked by God the Spirit Father about what you (as son of man) did in (Worldly) Sin City! Let me refer you to Matthew 6:25-34:Jesus said - 25 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing! 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? 27 Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life? 28 And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; 29 yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these. 30 Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith? 31 So do not worry; do not say, "What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?" 32 It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. 33 Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.' You will find it very hard to understand this passage because Jesus is not only speaking in parables, he is speaking in hieroglyphs that no worldly mind can understand. You need to first learn to contemplate about the spiritual meaning or purpose of worldly life. You might not get a ready answer but at least you end up training your mind to think beyond the circle, square or triangle.

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Since we are Chinese let me provide some quotes from Chinese spiritual philosophy as an exercise in spiritual wisdom. 1. When we come into this world, we are crying but our parents, siblings and relatives and family friends are smiling; when we die, we are in peaceful repose but our family and friends are crying. 2. We enter this world as babies with clenched fists, go through life with hands half unfurled (observe a human being walking, and you will know what I mean) and leave this world with hands spread open. 3. This is a line from a poem by Tang Dynasty poet, Luo-yin - "Having collected from the flowers and turned it into honey; for whom is this toil, for whom is made this nectar?" Do not end up leaving the world not knowing where to go spiritually; and when in this world not knowing where you come from spiritually! You are 'perfect' when you know how to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to render unto God what is God's! You should live your worldly mortal life always bearing in mind that you reap what you sow, and its consequences, reflected in how you are ascending and descending Jacob's Ladder. But in the spirit son of God, when you are awakened to it, you come as you are, in your exterior self, as a sinning son of man, for you are already 'perfect' in the 'spirit'. We all are sinners but we are already 'perfect' in the 'spirit', in our Spirit Father's eyes! You can only appreciate that the word 'perfect' is used to mean 'you are your father's son' and no more, when you remember that Jesus said to the ruler that called him 'Good Teacher' in Luke 18:19 - "Why do you call Me good ? No one is good but God!" In that context (Luke 18:19) no one is good but God. Similarly, applied herein Matthew 5:48 equally no one is 'perfect' but God? Not even Jesus or us! For, Jesus implied so from the foregoing! So the word 'perfect' in Matthew 5:48 has nothing to do with 'perfect' as in holiness, but 'perfect' as in a son in its father's own image, as in a perfect match, as in a splitting image of the Spirit Father! if you are still confused about 'goats' and 'sheep', and its equivalent in 'son of man' and 'spirit son of God', just reflect back on Adam before his Fall, and remember that you were and are a spirit son of God first before you became son of man second. It is only in knowing or realising this that you would know how to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to render unto God what is God's i.e. surrender your mortal life for eternal life; that is how you are 'perfect' in God your Spirit Father's eyes. And this is affirmed by day's Second Reading from 1 Corinthian 3:16-23 where St Paul said 'Didn't you realise that you were God's temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple. .... so there is nothing to boast about in anything human: .... the world, life and death, the present and the future are all your servants; but you (the spirit son of God) belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.' Finally, our human existence, ascending and descending Jacob's Ladder in entrapment, is definitely nothing to boast or gloat about. We are entrapped in 'Hotel California' (remember the Eagles' hit?) and there is no way out, unless of course, if you dissipate in the 'spirit' through its walls! Salvation is therefore of the 'spirit', of the 'sheep', and not the human body, not of the 'goat'! Love and God bless! Chuan

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