Be holy, for I the Lord, your God, am holy

FEBRUARY 23, 2020 SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Lec. 79) 

1)         Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

2)         1 Corinthians 3:16-23

3)         Matthew 5:38-48

Gospel related: CCC 443, 1693, 1825, 1933, 1968, 2013, 2054, 2262, 2303, 2443, 2608, 2828, 2842, 2844 CSDC 40

FOCUS:  The word holy means “to set apart; to be consecrated to God; to be dedicated to a sacred purpose.” If asked, each one of us could probably name someone whom we think is “holy.” Perhaps it is a deceased person whose life was so exemplary that the Church has declared them a saint – Mother Teresa, or a courageous martyr, Saint Joseph, the Blessed Mother, or our patron saint. It may even be a living person whom we admire – a person who has shown great faith during times of trial. We tend to know a holy person when we see him, or her.

How did Jesus talk about holiness? These are some of the things he told his disciples in today’s Gospel: When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well; Love your neighbor and your enemies; pray for those who persecute you; should anyone want you to go one mile, go two miles instead.

It is a bit of a mix of things to do, and things to not do. In the end, he sort of summarizes all of this by telling his disciples to be perfectjust as your heavenly Father is perfect. Jesus lived in full communion with God, and he expected his disciples to do the same. Indeed, he asks us to do the same. It is our universal vocation: All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness (CCC 2013).

What he asks of us is not impossible, for God commands what we are capable of doing (Cf., Deut 30:11). Granted, we cannot do it without his help, but there is nothing set before us that we cannot achieve with his grace (Cf. Mt 11:30, 1 John 5:3). And in the matter of holiness – which is always a process – we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. Paul writes to the Corinthians, Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? Each one of us, by our very baptism, is sanctified [made holy] by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are temples of God, belonging to Christ, and in whom Christ dwells.

As we prepare to receive Christ into our bodies, transforming us for the sake of ourselves and the world, may we embrace this call to holiness with our whole heart. For we are indeed temples in whom the Holy One dwells, and we are sanctified in this life so as to be perfect in the next.

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