I have always had really high standards, for myself and for others. I have lived my life demanding excellence because, as my father said growing up: “If you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all.” With this mindset, I have lived a great deal of my life as a perfectionist.
Recently, however, I went through a really difficult stretch of life where I couldn’t be perfect, no matter how hard I tried. Due to a series of very unfortunate events all stacked on top of each other, I was actually just trying to make it out of bed every day and keep my family going. Perfection was replaced with survival.
It was in this time of darkness that God worked a wonderful work of healing within me. He showed me the depth of His mercy. That while He does desire Christ-like excellence from us, He sees our heart, the depth of our love for Him. He sees how hard we are trying. God is as merciful as He is exacting.
This tension, between God’s high standards and His mercy, is present in today’s Gospel. He, the King, is throwing a banquet and casting out invitations to everyone and anyone who wants to come. And yet, he casts out the person who showed up without the appropriate attire. Why? Because God doesn’t just want us to show up. He doesn’t want the bare minimum from us. He wants our best. And sometimes, our best is making it to Church in spit-up stained leggings and T-Shirt because we barely made it out the door. And sometimes our best is as close to perfection as a person can get on earth. He knows the circumstances of our lives. He knows the intention of our heart. He is deeply compassionate and merciful. But we also have to do more than just show up. We have to give Him our very best, whatever that may look like.