A Cycle – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 17

How can we be holy as the Lord our God is holy?  We know our weaknesses and the many times we have failed to live up to the minimum expectations of God and his commandments.  Since we know our failings so well this hinders our ability to even take the first step to becoming holy as he is holy.  We look at ourselves and decide what in us needs to change in order to be all God desires us to be.

We think If only I could stop sinning.  If only I could find the right spiritual director to guide me. If only I could find the right source of study to keep my mind on spiritual things.  If only I could understand why I fail to do the very things that would help overcome sin.  If only I could find a place to go where I would be inspired to live my life differently.

Our problem is that we approach our spiritual life as a “self-improvement” project and set out to find the right instructions, materials to accomplish holiness.   Holiness becomes something we grow into by putting the right pieces in place at the right time.  Ultimately what we accomplish through our efforts is religious piety instead of holiness.

We have failed to understand that God is not telling us to achieve holiness through our own efforts but to become holy by the transforming power of Christ’s resurrection and the power of the Spirit at work in us.  It is only when we surrender ourselves to the plan of God to change us that we are able to allow holiness to grow within us.

We have utterly failed to depend on God for holiness and have opted instead to depend on our desire to find a means to become holy through programs, retreats, DVD’s, Bible Studies, and faith sharing groups. By taking on the quest to become holy upon ourselves we have become seekers of inspiration.  Being spiritually inspired only last a short time before we fall back into our old ways of living. What God has planned for all of us a permanent change in how we live our lives each and every day.

This journey of ours to holiness begins with us following the law because it points out the way to a moral life. We have to understand that the law then becomes our disciplinarian and custodian.  At some point we have to move away from allowing the law to define our righteousness because it only tells us we fell short instead of helping us overcome sin.

In order to overcome sin we need to have an experience of God so powerful we know we have encountered the giver of all things and that will change us forever. It is the experience of having the “love of God poured into our hearts” (Rom. 5:5) that moves us from trying not to sin to accepting God’s forgiveness of sin.  It is when we accept God’s forgiveness that we begin to understand that we can “put an end to the misdeeds of the flesh” (Rom. 8:13) by allowing his Spirit to transform us.

If we keep our faith in our heads – our intellect – we will never understand the great gift of salvation and the life we are destined to live.  If we follow the rules and perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy we will feel good about ourselves but we will miss out on feeling the love of God.  How do we move from seeking faith to seeking the presence of God, the presence of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

It begins with us tapping into that desire to live a life that is pleasing to God.  That is why we try so hard to be holy because we do desire to live a life pleasing to God.  Take that desire and in the quiet time of your prayer ask God fill you with the knowledge that you are “free from sin because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:8).  During that payer ask God to enfold you in his arms as he did the prodigal son so that you know God “forgave your sin and will remember it no more” (Mic. 7:18).

It is when you know that your past sins, current sins and future sins no longer condemn you that you can move from following the law to following the command of love.  It is when you know you are a delight in the eyes of God that you can begin to live a faith that is full of the experience of God.  It is then that you will be able to do the things that Jesus tells you are a requirement of living a life according to the law of the Spirit.

It is then that you are ready to ask God to pour his Holy Spirit into your hearts so that you will have his law written on your hearts instead of having the law on your minds.

Your heart yearns for God and that is why you have tried so hard to be faithful to the law.  This is also why our failure to follow the law is so painful for us.

God told us it is his desire that none of us should live in condemnation.   He yearns for each of us to be in his presence always.  That is exactly why he has devised a way for us to be holy through the death of Jesus Christ atoning for your sin and mine. Once we accept the fact that sins are forgiven we can then allow his plan for our holiness to be our next quest.

He had prepared a way for us to be holy without us seeking to find that one program that will do the trick for us. He has promised to give us his Spirit who now will transform our minds and hearts so we become who God destined us to become – Holy as he is Holy.