How is holiness measured?

By prayer? So, do we spend more time attending Mass or praying in the adoration chapel?

By charitable actions? Then let’s be more generous with our time, talent and treasure.

By studying the faith? Get hold of that Bible or that catechism and start reading.

 “Be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy,” the Lord says to Moses in Lev. 19.

Jesus will say much the same thing in the Gospel today to his listeners.

Holiness is our goal as followers of Christ because imitation is the fruit of real discipleship.

We want to be come like the Lord Jesus Christ; we want to be a reflection of the Father in heaven.

The first reading from Leviticus however, clarifies for us what really constitutes holiness.

Not prayer alone – so many people pray and yet, Jesus also said, not all who call him “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom.

Not good works only – there are generous people who give from their surplus wealth, but Jesus also said that a poor widow’s coins were more pleasing to God than chunks of donations.

Not perfect knowledge of the faith – we find people with amazing memory of Bible verses and church documents, but Jesus also said the self-righteous Pharisee is superseded by a humble publican in the eyes of God.

So what is the formula for holiness prescribed in our first reading today?

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.

Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,

do not incur sin because of him.

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

You see, how more practical, more demanding, more personal and more difficult is the path of holiness in the mind of God?

Is it easy not to hate; not to expunge people from one’s heart?

Is it easy to correct others without at the same time putting them down?

Is it easy to forego the idea of revenge or not to to think ill of an enemy?

Holiness is much easier if it only involves pleasing the Lord.

God is lovable, merciful, gracious. You cannot say that about all people around you!

So loving one’s neighbor is really the test of a holy person.

How can we live the challenge to grow in holiness today?

One of my favorite formulas come from a favorite saint – St. Francis de Sales.

He has a formula for dealing with others in a Christ-like way.

St. Francis taught that we need to be gentle with others, not dealing with them harshly.

He also said we must learn to be humble in our relationships, not pleasing oneself but learning to hide one’s interests and agendas.

Furthermore, he insisted on simplicity, being who we truly are before people, and just being our best.

Gentleness, humility, simplicity: these 3 things can help us love our neighbor and in doing so, grow in the life of holiness.

God bless you!


(don’t forget to share with a friend…)