The pursuit of holiness

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

This business of seeking holiness is something that is commanded of us by God. That is what we can clearly see in first reading of the Mass of Monday of the first week of Lent from the Book of Leviticus. “Be ye holy, because I the Lord your God am holy.” (19,2)

That is why God proceeded to spell out the commandments that we have to follow so we can be on the way toward holiness. And the responsorial psalm reinforces that call for holiness by telling us where to find the true life of holiness. “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.” (Jn 6,63) We should have no doubt as to where we can find that true Spirit and life that is meant for us.

The gospel of the day (cfr. Mt 25,31-46) points to us where we can find Christ who offers “the way, the truth and the life” proper to us. It’s not so much in doing big things. Rather it is in taking care of the small ordinary things of the day and in giving attention and care to the poor and needy of our society. “As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”

To be holy is actually a matter of becoming a living, functioning part of the body of Christ. That would mean that we become identified with Christ, infused with his spirit of love and conformed to his will and ways.

To be holy is to be with Christ, although in different ways, just like the different parts that form and serve one body. And we should not worry if, continuing the same imagery of the body and its parts, we happen to be that part that we consider of least honor.

St. Paul has this to say about that: “The parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.” (22-24)

The important thing to remember is that each part of the body, however it is considered in our human standards, has to serve the whole body. In other words, whatever our condition, position or status in life, we should always aim at sanctity, the end-all and be-all of our life.

We should refrain from getting entangled with petty comparisons with others, generating unnecessary envies, jealousies, conflicts, etc. We should learn to be contented with what we have as long as we use them for the attainment of our ultimate goal of holiness.

But we obviously have to attend to opportunities to a better condition, position or status when they prove to be coming from God’s will, and not just from our own desires that can be driven by pride, vanity, greed, and the like.

Let’s see to it that our work, for example, should have as its main purpose the achievement of holiness, and not just the fulfillment of some technical requirements and the attainment of some worldly goals, no matter how legitimate they are. Remember Christ saying, “What does it a profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.” (Mk 8,36)

We should see to it that the Christ-and-Church provided instrumentalities lead us to have a living encounter with Christ, something that can happen only when we activate our faith, hope, and charity through a functioning life of piety.

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