This month of November kicks off by the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. In itself, this festive event magnificently and highly contrasts with the celebration of Halloween, which is, practically, a hidden covenant with death and hell.
You and me are sons and daughters of the light. In his First letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul explains it so clear when he says: For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness (1 Thess 5:5). If that is the case why are we to waste our precious existence by indulging in the world and works of darkness? What good both the world and its erroneous works can do for us? By alligning ourselves with the world and its allurements are we not risking incurring on us and our children and their future generations loads of curses?
Hence, a wake-up call is direly needed! We need to revert back to our roots! In other words, to God from where we come from and to whom we are to go for our definite judgement. God’s Word keeps remind us of our call to be holy! A powerful biblical pericope which spontaneously comes to my mind concerning this universal call for holiness is that taken from 1 Peter 1:14-16: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
It is not crystal clear that when we succumb to the evil spirits of fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like we simply cannot inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21)? Let us put it as it really stands: according to Paul this is not merely a suggestion, an idea or any other thought. No! This is a warning, and, truth be told, a grave warning indeed! In fact, the apostle adds: I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).
Rather than being afraid, offended or letting ourselves be filled with ruthless and senseless resentment, that will lead to our eventual destruction, we should take St. Paul’s admonition as God the Father’s love for you and me! He loves us so much that He wants none of us to perish but be saved! That is why within the context of his First Letter St. Peter writes: You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Pt 1:23).
Yes! It is that same word of God that, to you and me, shows us our road map to Heaven. This road map is clearly illustrated in the letter to the Galatians when it says that the fruit of the Spirit, that is the fruit of God’s holiness, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). And, as the same Word of God rightly asserts, against such there is no law (Gal 5:23). How can God judge a person when that individual lives the fruit of holiness? Is it not obvious that He sees, in that person, Himself, both in that person’s living and acting? Thus, can God punish himself? Surely not!
So what is holiness? And how are we to attain it? Personally I find the entry 1107 of St. Faustina’s Diary very illuminating!
Today during meditation, God gave me inner light and the understanding as to what sanctity is and of what it consists. Although I have heard these things many times in conferences, the soul understands them in a different way when it comes to know of them through the light of God which illumines it. Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God. God never violates our free will. It is up to us whether we want to receive God’s grace or not. It is up to us whether we will cooperate with it or waste it.
Put into simple words, holiness means being spiritually intimate with God. But this close union with the Father, through the Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit, is translated into freely responding to the countless graces which God presents to us in order to grow in His love. In his Sermon of the Mount Jesus said: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:16).
To be holy means to share generously the gifts God has given us in order to build His Kingdom here on earth as the final preparation for the eternal banquet of Heaven. As Pope Francis tells us in his apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, Gaudete et Exultate: “The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7).”
Being empowered by such a great calling let us recall what the Bible tells us: And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart (Gal 6:9). And, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Cor 9:6). The point about holiness, our common call, is this! (see 2 Cor 9:6).
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap