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We, too, are called to holiness

Based on Lv 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Cor 3: 16-23; Mt 5:38-48

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, Your God, am holy.” This Sunday’s readings focus on our call to holiness.

The reading from Leviticus gets right to the point: we are to be examples of God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Paul continues trying to get the Corinthians to focus on Jesus and the heart of the Gospel rather than on him, Apollos or Peter. He instructs them that they, as members of the Body of Christ, are temples of God and called to holiness.

In the Gospel, Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ teaching is clear but a hard one to follow. He tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” If we want to be holy, we must start by loving our enemies.

Ouch! Asking too much? Of course, it is. It’s beyond human power alone, but Jesus doesn’t abandon us. He walks this narrow, difficult way with us. That was the lesson of Good Friday when he suffered and died for us. He has given us his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation, and the help of the Holy Spirit. He wants to shower us with his grace and blessings.

Charity, service, good/kind thoughts, forgiveness, love for our enemies and prayer for those who dislike us are some behaviors key to living the Christian life.

By the world’s standards, these behaviors are “crazy” and “nonsense.” According to the world’s thinking, we should be concentrating on “watching out for Number 1” and “getting even.”

As his followers, Jesus challenges us to be more and to do more. Jesus wants us to stop the cycle of evil and to break through the violence. “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good” (Rom 12:21). It all boils down to one commandment: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (Jn 13:34).

A verse from the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” says,

“The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures.”

Thank you, heavenly Father, for your love.  Help us to accept your transforming grace and to strive toward the holiness to which you call us.