On Becoming Complete

March 30, 2024 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

In about 1275, Bonaventure maintained that… everything exists in a state of potentiality. When God creates, God does not bring about new essences, but God brings to completion or actualization that which is incomplete or potential.Ilia Delio O.S.F. from Simply Bonaventure

Just a few weeks ago I complained to Pam about my habitual discontentment in life. She actually laughed at me as she retorted, “Honey, you lack the genes… you are not hard-wired to be content.” It’s true. So true.

Discontentment: The Heart of Creativity

But I am not alone. Every single one of us, according to St Bonaventure, seems to lack a feeling of ultimate contentment. In fact, it seems to me that discontentment may be a vital part of the soul of the creative person—the one who longs to discover or produce something more or better or truer.

In fact, one thousand years ago, the saint/scholar deduced that we are born in a state of potential where our incompleteness drives us to need more. Not more “stuff,” but more life, more joie de vivre, more love of life and learning of life.

Born to Become Complete

Yes, we are born incomplete, but also with the potential to relentlessly be on the lookout for completion. Bonaventure, once again, refers it as “actualization”—becoming actualized into that person we can be. Not so much the person that we were meant to be, but the person we can be. Choice and experimentation will lead us to living the kind of life that is most like a Creator who loves watching and assisting its creation in “Becoming Complete.”

A Story…

In seminary I took about 24 units of 3-unit classes studying the New Testament in the original language of Kione Greek. With the naivete of the quasi-educated I learned to disagree with a handful of contemporary translations of the Greek Bible. Perhaps none more that the translation of a sentence from the Sermon on the Mount. It’s the one that typically reads, “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” (Mt 5.48)

That translation is SO wrong. The Greek word “teleos” doesn’t really mean “perfect.” Not only is it a bad translation, but it is also a bad theology. Instead, “teleos” is much more accurately translated as “complete.”

Be Complete

So, in Charlie’s translation of Matthew 5.48 Jesus says, “Be complete, even as your Father in Heaven is complete.

Built with “potential,” we strive for completion or actualization. Our divine opportunity is to lean into our potential so that we can fill our inherent incompleteness.

Build into Your Potential

By Becoming Complete

Photo courtesy of Nastco at istockphoto


2 thoughts on “On Becoming Complete”

  1. Habitual discontent meant-which I might call perpetual curiosity-is a good thing in that it keeps us moving forward. I do believe there are moments when we are complete: deep into a mediation, which might include an intense present moment awareness that all is as it should be. Isn’t this one of the dichotomies of life: having it all and wanting it all, all at once?

    1. Loving “perpetual curiosity.” Yes, the dichotomy btwn having and wanting. Here and not yet at the same time.

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