A PERFECT 10
The title of my homily is, “A Perfect 10!”
Did you hear the last sentence in today’s Gospel: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Do we have to be a perfect 10 - as perfect as God is?
Woo, that would be a much tougher commandment than keeping all the all the 10 commandments all the time.
Did God ever try ice skating or gymnastics? Would God get a perfect 10 every time?
Life takes time. Growth takes time. It’s evolutionary. It takes practice. It’s developmental. It’s a journey. It’s a pilgrimage. So hopefully there is time for some Pilgrim Progress.
In the last 50 years a new word is “process” - as in “Process Philosophy” or “Process Theology”.
Life is a process - an evolution - hopefully.
We’re not finished till we’re finished. That’s what process philosophy and process theology teach is. We’re in process. We’re not there yet.
Take the process of doing a book or an article or a serious letter. The first draft is rarely the final draft. We jot down ideas. We do a quick draft. We add. We delete. We add. We cut. We do lots of drafts.
The old image was walking into a room of a person writing a book and we see hundreds of pieces of crumbled paper on the floor. I was tempted to take a bunch of pieces of paper - mimic a person at a typewriter - and crumble paper and throw them on the sanctuary floor. Now that we have computers, I’ll have to come up with a new image.
Doing a term paper, doing a book, doing a painting, doing a poem, doing life, all takes many drafts. We usually don’t get it right the first time. We learn. We develop. We grow.
Life is a process. Becoming perfect - becoming like God - more and more - is a process. It takes time.
Now the implications of taking a process position as opposed to a perfection position are profound.
First of all, start with oneself. Do a “selfie” exam.
Picturing oneself, how well have I learned patience and compassion with ourselves.
We don’t have faith, hope and charity down. We grow. We make good moves and we make bad moves. We sin. We fall. We revert. But hopefully we convert on a regular basis. Onwards and upwards. Excelsior. Let him or her who hasn’t made mistakes, who has arrived, who is perfect, stand there and throw rocks and him or her who is still moving onwards.
Question: do our mistakes, our slips, our falls, our sins, help us become more understanding of ourselves? As we age, do we age in patience—and compassion—bearing with ourselves lovingly? Or do we do a number on ourselves?
Can we admit that each time we sin, each time we fall, each time we don’t get an A+ or 100, we are not God. We are not perfect.
I think the advantage of marks teaches a kid that we usually don’t get hundreds. I think sports can teach kids that only one team wins the tournament. Only one kid wins the race—only one swimmer gets the gold medal. Very few gymnasts or figure skaters get a perfect 10.
So in the meanwhile, we have to learn to do our best, keep striving and keep training.
In the meanwhile, we need to enjoy the bus rides to different track meets and different stadiums. We need to keep practicing and do our homework.
In the meanwhile, we don’t kill yourself if you don’t get an A. Some students do that—for example, television or newspapers sometimes report that there is too much pressure in Japan to succeed, to be perfect.
Parents who stress that, often stress out their kids and themselves. Slow down and enjoy the flowers along the way.
Jesus will still eat with us, even when we sin.
So that’s a first step. We can also develop, learn, evolve, with our ability to be patient and compassionate with the other guy - with each other..
The problem with the Pharisees was their hiding the reality of their imperfections under a veneer of false holiness, piety and prayer.
Joan Baez used to sing a song, entitled, “Be not too hard”. It was by Christopher Logue-Donovan—whoever that is or whoever they are. The song lines are something like,
“Be not too hard for life is short,
and nothing is given to man.
Be not too hard we will soon die,
often no wiser than when we began.
Be not too hard
for he must manage as best he can.
Be not too hard when he blindly dies
fighting for things
that he does not own.
Be not too hard
for he will soon die
often no wiser than when he began.
Be not too hard when he tells lies
or if his heart is somewhat like a stone.”
My message then is: we are all on our way. So let’s be patient with ourselves and with others. Aim for a perfect 10 - but hold one’s head up when we get a 2.