FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE CALL TO HOLINESS
SOME PRINCIPLES OF HOLINESS
June 21, 2016
Today’s gospel: Matthew 7:6-14
[If you have not yet done so, please read first what preceded this article, sent earlier today, which is From the SG on The New Evangelization (Part 183). In there is the intro to this new series on The Call to Holiness.]
We are all called to holiness, to be holy as God is holy. You have heard this many times before. I have expounded on and written about holiness countless times. Are you growing in holiness? Where are you now in regard to this fundamental call? Do you even understand the call?
The call to holiness is very challenging. You may not want to hear everything God wants to say to you. You may prefer to skip over the clear but hard teachings in the Bible (Jesus’ sermon on the mount, including today’s reading, is a fundamental key to the call to holiness. Read and internalize chapters 5-7 of Matthew). You may even take a defensive posture and assault me for saying what I truly believe God wants to say to you. All that would be unfortunate. Let not Jesus’ words be applicable to you: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (v.6).
What is holiness? The golden rule? That is a good start. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” (v.12a). This rule is actually found in both positive and negative forms in pagan and Jewish sources, both earlier and later than the gospel. In fact, many non-Christians practice this rule so much better than so-called Christians!
What would be holiness in relation to this wonderful rule? Do unto others what is right and just and true. Period. No conditions. No payback. No basing on what they do to you. No looking to one’s well-being as at times an ulterior motive for having good and peaceful relationships with others.
What is holiness? It is entering the narrow gate. “Enter through the narrow gate” (v.13a). It is choosing the path of righteousness. It is being set apart from what the world chooses, “for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.” (v.13b). Unfortunately many Catholics have chosen the wide and broad road. They are headed to damnation. Resist the siren calls of materialism, consumerism, selfism, secular humanism, modernism, and all the other isms of the world. Be careful of the prosperity gospel, as the authentic gospel is the gospel of the cross. Take not the easy, comfortable or convenient path. Embrace the suffering which accompanies the authentic Christian life. “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (v.14). This narrow gate has been shown to you all these years. It leads to the path where you will encounter the cross of Christ. I pray that you will be courageous enough to enter it.
What is holiness? It is a life of prayer. It is intimate communication and relationship with God. It is surrender of one’s life to God. It is entering into the embrace of the Father and fully trusting in His provision and care for His beloved children. “Ask and it shall be given to you” (v.7a). It is knowing that God our Father has the best plan for our lives and is committed to seeing it happen, for “how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” (v.11b).
Holiness comes to those who truly pray. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. Our whole life should be an intimate relationship with Jesus, in obedience to the Father, and empowered by the Spirit.
Above are just three principles of holiness. There are many more.
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