What’s the word I’m looking for. Is it unparalleled or incomparable? Is it faultless or flawless? No, those are not the words I want. The word I want is “perfect.”
We look at someone in a wheelchair and thing to ourselves, “She’s perfect,” in other words, she’s doing her best under the circumstances. We soften words to show perfection. The “insane” are now mentally challenged, trying the best that they can. The term garbage men was dumped to become “sanitation engineers” and the title undertakers was buried to now be called “funeral directors.” Oh, and their hearse is now called a “coach.”
We attend Mass, this glorious amalgamation of our lives, and the word “perfection” is thrown out the window. Instead, feelings of being unworthy abound, feeling less then fills our hearts, and heaven becomes a game to win as though it’s a lottery ticket. Those thoughts often preoccupy and cloud our God-given souls. Feelings like that only hold us down when God’s intention is to always lift us up.
Can we rehear Zephaniah when he told those folks long ago and tells us during Advent,
“The Lord has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. Fear not … be not discouraged! The Lord…is in your midst, he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.”
You may not agree with this but perhaps think and pray about it. You are perfect even in your imperfections. You are perfect in your goodness and in your hopes, both for yourself and for others. Sounds weird, but it’s really not.
You think that none of you are saints when all the saints were never, ever perfect in the dictionary meaning but truly perfect in their life’s efforts. That is our faith. I don’t want to be the one to tell you but you will continue to sin and you will always fall short. I do want to be the one to tell you that you will touch the lives of many people with grace-filled compassion, sympathy and selfless deeds.
I wonder at what age we finally own and embrace both our gifts and our sins. That’s the moment, I believe, that we truly become Catholic. That’s the pinnacle that, in faith, is called “perfection.”
Everybody was asking John the Baptist, “What do you want us to do?” It’s a question that we can only address in our personal lives, as did those holy saints. What are my strengths? Where do I continually fail? That’s uncovering perfection’s balance.
Now, back to Zephaniah. What song do you want God to sing at your heavenly festival? Which Paul Anka song? Is it that selfish preoccupation, “I Did It My Way,” or is it all the good we’ve done and continue to do, “Put Your Head on My Shoulder?”