Guide To Holiness 19th February, 2017

The readings of today invite us to reflect on our relationship with God, our relationship with people in the world and the relationship we have with our own selves.

In the first reading (Leviticus 19:1-2.17-18), the Lord through His servant Moses addresses the Hebrews on their way to the promise land in the following words “Be holy, for, I, the Lord your God, am holy.” In other words, they are to embrace holiness which is the nature and character of God.

The responsorial psalm adds to the above when it challenges us to be holy because our God is holy by becoming kind, merciful and loving.

In the second reading (1 Corinthians 3:16-23), St. Paul gives us an additional reason to be holy when he says “Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anyone should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred and you are the temple.”

In the Gospel reading (Matthew 5:38-43), Jesus contributes to the call for holiness when He tells us “You must be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How can we achieve this holiness? I propose for 4 steps for our reflection:

  1. Abstain from retaliation. The people were used to this principle “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” but the Lord is instructing that retaliation has no place in the life of a Christian. In place of this, Jesus gives His new law of love, grace, forgiveness and reconciliation
  2. Take offence gracefully and love the offender. Jesus illustrates this by using images such as “turning the other cheek, freely giving the tunic and adding the cloak to it and walking the extra mile.” We are commanded to love our enemies as Jesus loves us.
  3. Avoidance of revenge. This should be unconditional and wholehearted. This means not only loving, but also forgiving those who hurt us and wilfully cause us suffering, pain and hardship.
  4. Praying for the conversion and renewal of life of our enemies. Instead of wishing that evil befall our enemies, let us rather pray for their own conversion. May God help us in our resolve for holiness by avoiding hatred, by being obedient to His commandment, by loving and by forgiving.