STEPS TO ATTAIN HOLINESS
Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
Holiness has been a long-aged Clarion call for every human being, especially Christians. In the scriptures, there are a plethora of passages that dwell on the holiness of life, especially in the Old Testament, where God continued to admonish the Israelites on the need to be holy since He Himself is holy.
But the bone of contention is, what does God mean by the holiness of life? Is it possible for one to attain holiness here on earth? If yes, how? What are the characteristic features of one whose ways are holy? In this homily, we shall review ways to actualize holiness in a manner that pleases God.
GOD URGES US TO BE HOLY
In the first reading, God, speaking through Moses, explains to the Israelites how they ought to live their lives as children of God. Hence He says, “You shall be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. “You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself; I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:2–4).
Similarly, Jesus Christ tells His disciples in today’s gospel, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He further says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44–45).
WAYS TO ATTAIN HOLINESS
To be perfect also means to be holy. Perfection and holiness imply loving everyone unconditionally, even our enemies. In other words, the quest for holiness or perfection is not optional for any disciple of Jesus Christ; it is a must.
Unfortunately, the reality of our daily lives as human beings seems to pose a serious challenge to the actualization of this holiness or perfection. We experience a lot of hatred, rejection, wickedness, maltreatment, etc., especially from people we show love to. Nevertheless, showing unconditional love and mercy to everyone, even to those who hurt us, is actually what Jesus Christ means by being perfect or holy. That is, to lead charity beyond the eyes of men—a charity that is divine, which condemns evil but upholds love, justice, equity and fairness.
Another way we can attain holiness here on earth is by constantly performing spiritual cleansing on our soul. By that, I mean going to sacramental confession frequently and being merciful to others. King David committed one of the most atrocious acts in biblical history, but he was someone God loved and referred to as a man after His own heart. Why? He was humble and always remorseful and repentant whenever he realized that he had offended God. So, God does not look at the magnitude of our sins, but at how humble we are to ask for forgiveness.
OUR OBLIGATIONS AS CHRISTIANS TOWARDS ACHIEVING HOLINESS
As Christians, we have the obligation to love unconditionally or universally and to be perfect or holy, just as our Heavenly Father is holy. This obligation forbids us from exacting vengeance or bearing grudges against anyone but always praying for them, including our enemies, that God may forgive them. In fact, what Jesus Christ meant by being perfect here is that we cannot intentionally make any enemies for ourselves, but we cannot stop someone else from making us his or her enemy. This sounds easy in mere talk; however, it takes someone being guided by the Holy Spirit to be able to practice these virtues.
This is the reason why St. Paul admonishes the people of Corinth in the second reading not to live by the mentality of this world. He says, “If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20). He also reaffirms the injunction given by Jesus Christ and reminds us that our body is God’s temple, which should be kept holy.
We are called to be holy since our Heavenly Father is holy. We can achieve this holiness of life by loving everyone unconditionally, including our enemies, and also by being merciful to them. We should always acknowledge our sins by humbly asking God for forgiveness. Lastly, we need God’s special intervention in our country against the evil people.
I pray that the Holy Spirit may give you the grace to attain holiness of life that pleases God, which will lead you to eternal life in the end, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.
God, I need your help to attain holiness of life…Amen!
My dear Modesta, may the Almighty God empower you so as to live a life of holiness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Thank you, Fr for enriching us with your homily. May God continue to fill you with His Holy Spirit and also grant you the graces you need to do the work He entrusted to your care.
Amen?! I thank God for His grace and inspiration. You are welcome my dear Aunty Maureen. May God’s strength envelope you so as to attain holiness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Being holy is one of the needs required of us by God. Holiness in the sense that you keep yourself pure and keep up with the good ways of life according to God’s teaching. Everyone keep up to good works
May the Holy Spirit help you to live a life of holiness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.