This is the second in a series of short reflections on the eight general attributes of God that can known by reason, as set forth by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica. I've been learning about St. Thomas and the Summa from Dr. Taylor Marshall and the online classes he offers at the New Saint Thomas Institute. These reflections are the result of my meditations on each individual attribute during prayer. As such, they are not meant to be deep theological discussions, but simple spiritual thoughts on the majesty of our God . I pray you find them beneficial in your walk with Christ.
God is perfect.
The second attribute of God according to St. Thomas comes straight from the lips of Jesus himself: "Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Unlike divine simplicity, God's perfection isn't as hard for us humans to wrap our heads around. As St. Thomas says, we call perfect "that which lacks nothing." Indeed, God lacks nothing, meaning he cannot improve. He's as perfect today as he was yesterday, and as perfect today has he will be tomorrow. Any created thing we call "perfect" in this world is but a reflection of the Creator's divine perfection.
While God gave each us the reason (mental ability) to comprehend His perfection, He chose to reveal completely that perfect nature by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, the God-man, to suffer and die for our sin. "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) As the Catechism explains, "Jesus presents himself as our model. He is the perfect man, who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate." (CCC ¶ 520)
Not only is God's perfection revealed in Christ himself, but also in His perfect suffering and sacrifice. "You were ransomed . . . with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (1 Peter 1:18-19) "In suffering and death his humanity became the free and perfect instrument of his divine love which desires the salvation of men." (CCC ¶ 609) Moreover, Christ's perfect suffering and sacrifice on the Cross results from His perfect love for us: "It is for love of us that he is on the Cross with his arms stretched out, fastened to the wood more by the Love he has for us than by the nails." (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge ¶ 191)
Our job in this life is to imitate Christ's perfection through our daily battles and sufferings. Jesus doesn't stutter when he says "be perfect!" (Matthew 5:48) "The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle." (CCC ¶ 2015) As Ash Wednesday quickly approaches, I encourage you to pray and meditate on ways you can grow in holiness during Lent. Whether it is increasing the time spent in prayer, starting a new devotional practice, or engaging in the corporal or spiritual works of mercy, do it with the goal of encountering Jesus anew every day. But whatever the case may be, remember these words from St. Gregory of Nyssa: "Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none."
God love you.