FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
SUPPLEMENTS TO A LIFE OF PURITY
June 4, 2012
Today’s reading: 2 Peter 1:2-7
God calls us to a life of holiness, to live pure. Now that is a very difficulty call. But God does not issue a high call only to see us fail. We need to see the realities that come with being called by God.
First, God Himself takes the initiative in calling us. This is important. God calls us according to His will and plan. He “called us by his own glory and power.” (2 Pt 1:3b). The God of eternity has planned something good for us from all eternity. We just need to open our eyes, mind and heart in order to start working towards His will for our lives.
Second, with every call, since God Himself wills something for us, He will provide whatever is needed to achieve it. His grace is sufficient and His power is unlimited. “His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion” (2 Pt 1:3a). We only need to give our assent, and cooperate with His grace, power and glory.
Third, God calls us from out of a world of darkness and sin, which world is under the dominion of the evil one. We are God’s children and we belong to Him. God does not want us living in bondage. We live in bondage because of our own evil desires and giving in to our fallen flesh. God through His call provides the way out, “escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” (2 Pt 1:4c).
Fourth, God’s call is not just about bringing us out of bondage to evil, but is especially all about restoring us to Himself, reconfiguring us into His image and likeness in which we were created, and extending to us the life that He intended from all eternity, starting with that perfect existence in paradise. God’s intent is that we “may come to share in the divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4b). We are called to be like Jesus.
God has provided everything we need. The only question is how do we respond? “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.” (2 Pt 1:5-7).
Notice that Peter exhorts us to “make every effort.” We need to strive for holiness. We need to make it a priority in our life. We need to see that it is at the very center of God’s call, from which everything else in our Christian life proceeds. We need to endure and to persevere. We need to rise every time we fall, and start over again.
What are the necessary supplements to a life of purity? According to Peter, these supplements build on and support each other. They are crucial components for life and devotion.
* Faith. This is about our “knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Pt 1:2b). It is repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is knowledge of God as Father and eternal Creator, who has a wonderful plan for us, to give us a future full of hope.
* Virtue. But faith cannot just be an intellectual exercise or a life of external devotional practices. It is all about avoidance of sin and growing in a life in Christ. It is being transformed and continuing to grow in maturity. It is in fact a call to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.
* Knowledge. As a tool to growing in the Christian life, we need knowledge–of God and of His ways. Such is critical so that we can start to conform our lives to His ways, given that the ways of the world, which we know and often live out, are so contrary to God’s ways. This necessitates study, primarily of the Bible, the living word of God. Then there is prayer, whereby we develop our relationship with Jesus and allow him to teach us His ways.
* Self-control. As we start to grow in the Lord, we will encounter the allure and oppression of the world, the flesh and the devil. These seek to control us and keep us from living holy lives. Now we belong to God, and we look to Him for control over our lives. God does provide His grace and the power of His Spirit, but we need to work at our life in Him. We need mastery of self, submitted to our Master Jesus. We need to control our fleshly desires and unruly emotions. We need to more and more be emptied of self so that we can truly become temples of the Holy Spirit.
* Endurance. Living pure is not easy. We will fail many times. We must not become frustrated, or worse, give up, but we must simply endure. Many times God allows us to fail, in order to humble us, to purify us, to make us realize our total dependence on Him. But every time we rise by the grace and power of God, we become stronger.
* Devotion. We can only endure if we have a life of devotion. This includes our prayer life and our daily reading of scripture. This includes our fidelity to our covenant promises. This includes our devotion to Mama Mary. This includes our frequent participation in the Eucharistic celebration.
* Mutual affection. Then we also know that we are not alone in our journey, but that we have fellow pilgrims with us. These are especially the brethren given to us by God in our ecclesial associations or parish groups. They are there to support us, as we support them. There must be mutual appreciation and respect that lead to fraternal affection. We care for each other and travel together to heaven.
* Love. Above all we put on love, the primary characteristic of a Christian. We love God and we love our neighbor. We love our enemies. We are willing to lay down our lives for our friends. Love is the fullness of Christian life.
“Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises” (2 Pt 1:4a). God wants a wonderful life for us, as He originally intended. God promises to be with us until the end of the age, when we will finally enter once again into paradise, that is heaven.
Live pure, so that “grace and peace be yours in abundance” (2 Pt 1:2a).