THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for May 24th, 2016
Liturgical texts here
THE most daunting words in Scripture might be those in today’s first reading:
Be holy because I am holy.
Most of us look into the mirror and turn away with sadness if not disgust: “I am anything but holy. Furthermore, I will NEVER be holy!”
And yet, God says this to you and me as a command. How could He, who is infinitely strong, perpetually perfect, and incomparable in might…. ask me, who is infinitely weak, perpetually imperfect, and incomparably cowardly to be holy? I think the best answer, the most beautiful one that is consistent with the lengths to which God has gone to prove His love for us is this:
Listening to Christ and worshipping Him leads us to make courageous choices, to take what are sometimes heroic decisions. Jesus is demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day Message for 2005, Vatican City, Aug. 27th, 2004, Zenit.org
The call to holiness is the call to happiness. When I am living most in God’s will, that is when I will be most content. The earth’s rotation around the sun and its tilt throughout the seasons is a parable of holiness. When it obeys the laws assigned to it by the Creator, the earth perennially bears fruit and sustains life. But were it to begin to depart from those laws, even by a single degree, all life would begin to suffer. Yes, suffering is the fruit of the absence of holiness.
The law assigned to you and I by the Creator is the law of the love.
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)
All, he says! The degree to which we do not live this commandment is the degree to which we bring suffering into our midst.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. (Matt 22:39-40)
Love is the essence of the Gospel. If you love, then you will never do anything to hurt the object of your love (God or neighbour). Holiness, then, is love in action. In fact, knowing your weakness, God often overlooks those faults that come through it.
…love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
So holiness, too, is purity of intention. Thus, holiness is self-effacement for the other. Holiness is our response, our “yes” to God; perfection is the Holy Spirit’s work within and response to us.
The way to become holy, then, is to begin where you are; it is to love where you are at, starting with the little things.
We must resist great temptations with unconquerable courage, and our victories over such temptations will be most valuable. Even so, on the whole, we probably gain more by resisting the lesser temptations that continually assault us. The greater temptations are more powerful. But the number of little temptations is so much more considerable that a victory over them is just as important as a victory over the ones that are greater but rarer.
No doubt wolves and bears are more dangerous than biting flies. But they don’t as frequently cause us annoyance and irritation. So they don’t try our patience in the way that flies do.
It’s easy to abstain from murder. But it’s difficult to avoid the angry outbursts that so are often aroused within us. It’s easy to avoid adultery. But it’s not so easy to be wholly and constantly pure in words, looks, thoughts, and deeds.
It’s easy not to steal what belongs to someone else, difficult not to covet it; easy not to bear false witness in court, difficult to be perfectly truthful in everyday conversation; easy to refrain from getting drunk, difficult to be self-controlled in what we eat and drink; easy not to desire someone’s death, difficult never to desire anything contrary to his interests; easy to avoid open defamation of someone’s character, difficult to avoid all inward contempt of others.
In short, these lesser temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, frivolity, vanity, foolishness, deception, artificiality, impure thoughts, are a perpetual trial even to those who are most devout and resolute. So we must carefully and diligently prepare for this warfare. But be assured that every victory won over these little foes is like a precious stone in the crown of glory that God prepares for us in heaven. —St. Francis de Sales, Manual of Spiritual Warfare, Paul Thigpen, Tan Books; p. 175-176
We prepare for warfare, brothers and sisters, through a consistent life of personal prayer, frequenting the Sacraments, and above all, faith in God’s mercy and providence.
…there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. (Today’s Gospel)
Don’t be sad because you are unholy.
Instead, pray with me for God’s mercy and help, which never fails…
CD available at markmallett.com
Download a FREE copy of the Divine Mercy Chaplet
with original songs by Mark:
Click the album cover for your complimentary copy!