(Part 11)


March 11, 2017

Today’s readings:

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Psalm 119:1-8

Matthew 5:43-48

By the very nature of our relationship with God, we are called to holiness. We are children of a holy God, we are members of the holy Church established by Christ, we are destined for heaven, where only the holy can enter. And we have entered into a holy covenant with God by virtue of our Baptism.

What is the nature of this covenant? It is a solemn bilateral agreement. “Today you have accepted the Lord’s agreement: he will be your God, and you will walk in his ways, observe his statutes, commandments, and ordinances, and obey his voice.” (Dt 26:17). Simply put, what is the “deal”? God’s part: He will be our God; our part: we will obey Him. If so, we become “a people specially his own” (Dt 26:18b). That means we are “set apart.” That means we are holy, “and you will be a people holy to the Lord, your God, as he promised.” (Dt 26:19b).

Now here is the problem: God always keeps His part, but we have not kept ours.

If we “walk by the law of the Lord,” we will “do no wrong” (Ps 119:1b,3a). But we do much wrong in our lives.

We are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we fail in that. Even more, Jesus tells us not only to love our neighbor, but to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). We fail in that too. But this is what our call is all about, “that you may be children of your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:45a). That we might be holy children of a holy God!

We are a people set apart. We cannot just be like everyone else. “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” (Mt 5:46-47). Now that is hard, practically impossible for fallen human flesh. But that is what we are called to do and to be. We are set apart. We are to be different from the world. We are called to be like God. “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48).

We must walk the path of holiness and toward Christian perfection. Today we are reminded: “This day the Lord, your God, is commanding you to observe these statutes and ordinances. Be careful, then, to observe them with your whole heart and with your whole being.” (Dt 26:16).

Our part: to resolve to do God’s will. “May my ways be firm in the observance of your statutes!” (Ps 119:5). Then we can expect God to do His part. “Blessed those whose way is blameless, who walk by the law of the Lord.” (Ps 119:1).

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