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Over the last few weeks, we have watched amazing ski-jumpers, snowboarders and ice-skaters complete gravity-defying leaps, twists and amazing spins only to see the panel of judges award marks that always fall short of perfection.   

And it is not only Olympians that seem unable to achieve perfection: in the secular world, it is something that is considered out of reach: ‘nobody’s perfect’, we say… and yet Jesus quite clearly stated that ‘You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 5:48).

How can this be, then?  Does Jesus demand the impossible?  No – of course not.  It is our understanding of the word ‘perfect’ that is… well, imperfect!  Thérèse of Lisieux, however, understood what Jesus meant by perfection.  She describes it so well in her autobiography that it needs no further comment from me:

Jesus set before me the book of nature. I understand how all the flowers God has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understand that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers. So it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He has created smaller ones and those must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.


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