“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.” Lv 19:12
In today’s readings, the Father commands us to be holy; Paul states that we are the dwelling place of the Spirit of God; and Jesus calls us to “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Seems like a tall order in a world filled with every kind of sin and suffering. But God does not give us commandments that we’re incapable of keeping. Through Jesus Christ, we have the power to choose holiness and reject sin. God fills us with His own Spirit to make us capable of great holiness.
This call to perfect holiness doesn’t mean that we’re all meant to spend our lives in a monastery. Most of us live and work in the world, which sometimes seems to be enveloped in darkness. We are to bring the holiness of God to our world by our love and compassion for one another. And we are to witness to God’s presence in our lives by preserving our holiness and purity in a world that claims we are incapable of it.
Don’t listen to the whisper of the serpent, saying that we are just like the animals. God created us in His image, for holiness, for greatness, that we might someday be united with Him in eternity. We have the ability to recognize and reject the evil that swirls around us in so many forms: human trafficking; the ugly, dark images abounding in our media that masquerade as “shades of grey”; the temptation to blot out reality with drugs and alcohol; the destruction of innocent lives in abortion; and the false claim of the evil one that it is “safe” for our young people to fill their bodies with contraceptives, to use and be used by others, instead of teaching them what love truly means.
Jesus commands us to love and pray for our enemies in this sinful world, while at the same time reaching for perfection. It is a tall order. But He empowers us with the gift of redemption, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, to fulfill it. If we are to image God in the world, we can do no less.
Readings for the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feb. 19th, 2017
17-18 ~ Ps 103 ~ 1 Cor 3:16-23 ~ Mt 5:38-48