Be Perfect?

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (A): Matthew 5:38-48

I’m practically perfect from head to toe
If I had a fault it would never dare to show
I’m so practically perfect
In every way

Both prim and proper and never too stern
Well-educated yet willing to learn
I’m clean and honest, my manner refined
And I wear shoes of the sensible kind

I suffer no nonsense and whilst I remain
There’s nothing else I feel I need explain

I’m practically perfect in every way
Practically perfect, that’s my forte
Uncanny nannies are hard to find
Unique, yet meek, unspeakably kind

I’m practically perfect, not slightly soiled
Running like an engine that’s just been freshly oiled
I’m so practically perfect
In every way

– From the song “Practically Perfect”, Mary Poppins: The Musical

Does this song remind you of anyone you know? I couldn’t help but think of a couple of nuns who taught me in school. Even if this wasn’t their conscious intent, I could easily imagine either of them singing this song with a straight face. They certainly gave me that impression. But not only nuns, of course. I’ve met other people who seemed to give off an aura of “practically perfect”. Might this song apply to you in some way? I confess that I have often felt that I should be something like this – or very close to it – and that I would be a failure as a human being if I wasn’t like this. This image of “practically perfect” has dominated the imaginations of many people, causing them to see themselves as “not good enough”, no matter what they did. People who are literal-minded, or prone to obsessive-compulsive behavior, can be especially vulnerable to seeing this image of perfection as what it means to be a good human being. They suffer greatly from never being able to attain such perfection in their lives, and can see themselves as failures because of it. Sadly, other, ‘healthier’ people sometimes confirm this by their attitudes toward those who have psychological challenges and thus can’t appear to be “practically perfect”.  Continue reading “Be Perfect?”