I’ve never liked this passage. Perfection?? That’s not a message a perfectionist like me needs to hear! Luke’s version uses “merciful,” and scholars tell us that a better translation of Matthew’s version would be “whole.”
Let me tell you about my friend Sharon. Sharon has an easy laugh, the gift of gab, and a slight southern drawl. She is loving and maternal, and gives great hugs. She also has a cerebral palsy and a mild intellectual disability.
Sharon struggles with her weight, so over the course of a year I accompanied her to weekly Weight Watchers meetings. We would arrive early and walk for 15 minutes before the meeting. Sharon walks with leg braces and a walker, which can make walking a slow endeavor. On the days Sharon felt sad or angry, she struggled to motivate herself to walk, so I would make up songs and silly rhymes to cheer her on. Other days, I arrived preoccupied and in a hurry, and Sharon’s warm hug, slow gait, and long stories would invite me to slow down and be present.
It was precisely because of our imperfections that we allowed each other to shine. Sharon’s lack of motivation enabled me to share my gift of encouragement. My need to slow down enabled Sharon to share her gift of presence.
Did either of us become more perfect? No way. But certainly, beautifully, we helped each other to become just a bit more whole.
Sr. Christin Tomy
St. Louis, MO