good enough

Mar 7, 2020

Today’s gospel reading take me back to the visit of Pope (Saint) John Paul to Christchurch in 1986. It was this gospel that I as a newly ordained priest read at that Mass. Until this moment the day had been bright and sunny, but as the gospel was read “God causes his rain to fall on honest and dishonest people alike” the heavens opened for a remarkable downpour leaving the majority of the Lancaster Park crowd drenched. But then the sun took over again as though nothing had happened and we quickly dried out forgetting the rain and continuing the Mass.

Many people had spent months planning every detail of the outdoor Mass. A rain-storm was not a part of their perfect planning picture. As the gospel reading finished and the pope was ready to begin his homily he casually commented “I see Christchurch has put on special weather for me today.”

Then in the his homily John Paul reflected on the gospel reading:

“Today in Christchurch, Jesus puts these words, this challenge to you and to me. The standard that is set before us is not merely to give to each one his due. The standard for the followers of Jesus Christ is “to be perfect” as God himself is perfect.”

Like the papal Mass planners, we all have our own idea of the perfect day, the perfect dinner, the perfect relationship or the perfect job. We make the mistake of measuring ourselves against the “perfection” that others seem to have achieved. The problem then is that we hold ourselves to these artificial and fickle standards. What we think is perfection is not really perfection at all. It’s certainly not the kind of perfection that Jesus speaks of.

This gospel reading concludes: “You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Note that this perfection is not a human achievement, or found in perfect weather or in any other earthly perception of perfection. But the perfection we see in Jesus who is at home in the messy imperfection of human existence, turning tables and speaking impolite truth to respectable people.

I like the “good enough” term coined by British psychoanalyst in 1953, He eased the minds of many parents who feared they were not doing parenting perfectly enough by speaking of how important it was to have parents who were not perfect but who were “good enough!”

And then I was reminded at my uncle’s 90th birthday party last month of the priest who married my grandparents telling them at their 1927 wedding: “Do your best, and leave the rest to God.”

An Invitation:

  • Take that instruction of the priest as a mantra for the day, hearing Jesus say to you regularly throughout the day: “do your best, and leave the rest to me”

16 Comments

  1. Thank you Fr John for remembering and sharing that beautiful mantra. Encouraging words to start the day.

    Reply
  2. Yes I will do my best….and leave the rest to God. A gentle reminder. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Yes I will do my best….and leave the rest to God. A gentle reminder. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for that wise observation from the priest at the wedding. Thank you for the work you do preparing and publishing these emails. I greatly appreciate it. I especially loved the hound of heaven.

    Reply
  5. Blessings Father John and have a Peace Filled day

    Reply
  6. Thank you Father John! As always your message is hopeful and inspiring !

    Reply
  7. Tears in my eyes as I realise once again that God loves me just as I am, which helps me to love others warts and all.
    Thank you

    Reply
  8. Well I remember the wonderful day at Lancaster park and more recently, Fr Jack’s 90th birthday which was a great celebration of a life which continues to be well lived.

    Watching your words each day.

    Reply
  9. Thank you Father. We tend to forget God when we are happy and get grumpy when what we plan is not fulfill. We forget that God has better plans for easch of us.

    Reply
  10. Thank you Fr John for the reminder to “do the best I can and leave the rest to God”. As a single parent I sometimes fret that I am not perfect for my 2 daughters. But how good it feels that I can leave the rest to the Almighty!

    Reply
  11. Father John, Your words are food for the soul and “doing my best and leaving the rest to God” , is comforting.
    Blessings to you always.

    Reply
  12. thank you, Fr. John. We so often worry about our poor efforts at holiness, yet God accepts them as they are. If we have done our best, that’s good enough

    Reply
  13. Thank you Fr.John, for remembering the wise advice at your G-parents
    wedding. I find them very comforting.

    Reply
  14. I really appreciate today’s reflection it has been so encouraging and reassuring for me plus I have shared it with other family. Help in a very practical way to be the best we can and leave the rest to God .
    Thanks so much each day Fr John

    Reply
  15. Thank you Fr John. I will use that mantra. It is a comfort.

    Reply
  16. A beautiful reflection. I often have to say,’I have done my best Lord, but now I leave it to you’. I rest in you. Let go and let God – not always easy.

    Reply

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