A lesson in holiness
Recently, as I have been searching for a deeper spiritual connection I have been attending classes at a local church. I am attending to learn about faith and about Christianity. The classes cover the history of Christianity, the beliefs of the different faiths, etc. I have learned alot in these classes. Sometimes, I leave surprised by the lesson or I take away something that creates a shift in how I see my experiences in religion, such as this past week.
This week, the priest who leads these lessons was talking about our call to be holy. First, what?? In my experience there is no way this will ever be possible. We are sinners and no changing that. I have believed that the glass was half empty as far as our ability to be holy or truly “good” was concerned and there was no way to fix that, no matter how hard we tried. Even in my best moments I would be a sinner. But in this class, the priest said “Everyone is called to the fullness of life (John 10:10); that is, there is a ‘universal call to holiness,’ a vocation to lead a life that draws ever closer to God, a life wholly dedicated to the Kingdom of God.” It sounded almost cruel at first, that God would call us, eternal sinners, to be something he knew we could never be.
This is when things get good.
He said “. . . since baptism is the true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by the minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity.” If we wish to be baptised, we wish to be holy. HOLY. Because of my glass half empty view of my ability to be holy, I have been living in mediocrity. I have settled. I have been shallow in my religiousity because I have not felt there was any way I could possibly come close to the perfection of God. But, according to this, I should be living as if I CAN. I should live as if I am holy, because I am, because I am baptised.
This belief is a GLASS HALF FULL version of Christianity. We can do it, we can be holy through faith, worship, morality, and love. Hey, I can work with this! According to Google the definition of holy is “dedicated or consecrated to God for a religious purpose; sacred.” Isn’t this what we are all supposed to be? Wow, paradigm shift. Suddenly, I am not feeling all the ways in which I am failing the Lord in my walk with him, but now I am feeling all the ways in which I am succeeding. I will not ever see it any other way again. To truly believe I could please Him and not be perpetually grounded by a displeased parent lightens my heart and encourages me to love harder and do better.
I do not know exactly where God is leading me in my religious journey with Him, but I am loving the ways He is drawing me to Him and showing me He loves me. I left this lesson feeling like I could please God, like He might could be a proud parent when looking upon my measly human efforts to be a good woman, in spite of my being a sinner.
The priest presented the following verses to back up our call to be holy (p 61).* Now, I have heard these in isolation but have either a) assumed it wasn’t meant for me but for the original audience or b) that I can try, but we all know it is impossible. But, reading them all collected like this, how can I not see the truth in it? I am called to be holy because God wants me to be like him, he CHOSE me to be like him. He sent Jesus to purify me for this purpose. This makes every little decision I make more important than before. My responsiblity is greater. I am meant to be more than just “good.” I am meant to be holy.
- You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples that you should be mine. – Leviticus 20:26
- I will walk in the way of perfection . . . I will walk with blameless heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes whatever is base. – Ps 100 
- Be you perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48
- Paul . . . To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints . . . – 1 Corinthians 1: 1-2
- This is the will of God, your sanctification – 1 Thessalonians 4:3
- For God has not called us to uncleanness, but in holiness – 1 Thessalonians 4:7
- May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
- He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity – Ephesians 4:3
- I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called – Ephesians 4:3
- Fight the good fight of faith, lay thy grasp on eternal life, that life thou wert called to – 1 Timothy 6:12
- He has saved us, and called us to a vocation of holiness – 2 Timothy 1:9
- Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one wil see the Lord – Hebrews 12:14
- Be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16
- Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for the hastening the day of God. . . Therfore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot of blemish, and at peace – 2 Peter 3:11, 14
By the way, in case you got hung up on the word sanctification this is Google’s definition: 1. The action of making or declaring something holy.”the sanctification of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ” 2. the action or process of being freed from sin or purified.”the process of sanctification takes deliberate action on our part.”
I have no illusion that I can be truly good all the time, but having this shift in the way I see my relationship with God has me more motivated and excited to want His will and not mine, to be still and listen for His direction, and to live my life more purposefully. For the first time, I believe he sees the good in me more than the bad. Which, really, as a parent, I should have known. I should have connected these dots before now. I love my kids and see the best in them, not the worst. I forgive them when they aren’t so perfect and chalk it up to learning experience. Why wouldn’t my God do the same for me? For us?
Please take some time over this Christmas season to thank Jesus for his sacrifice so we can be santified, truly holy in His sight. Then, let’s all try to act like it.
*The quotes not from the Bible are from this come directly from RCIA: A journey of faith and reason Fr. Charles Merrill 2021-22.