Holiness is the heart of our relationship with Jesus and holiness is the heart of our mission as Christians.
Yet holiness is still often misunderstood.
I still hear people talk as if holiness is something only for special people, something that’s beyond our reach, something only saints can achieve.
This is not true!
Holiness is the beautiful destiny that God intends for everybody.
This is one of the truths that we learn from our reflection on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart of Jesus is the source of all life and holiness. As we celebrate this great feast this week, we should reflect on the love that Jesus has for us and his beautiful intention for our lives.
Jesus called each of us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. St. Paul told us: “This is the will of God — your sanctification.” This is what the Second Vatican Council called the “universal call to holiness.”
We are still sinners. That doesn’t change — it’s the reality of the human condition. But because Jesus is holy, sin and weakness do not have the last word in our lives. Because Jesus is holy, sinners can become saints.
The love of Jesus, which he gives to us through the Church’s sacraments, purifies us and joins us to his own life. And his life is holy and divine. So when we share in the life of Jesus, we share in his holiness and his divinity. This is what it means to be a child of God.
So we are not born holy. God makes us holy — through his grace and our desire to correspond with his grace.
He changes our heart, day by day, if we choose to walk with Jesus. His path is the path of holiness.
In practical terms, the way to grow in holiness is to imitate Jesus — to follow in his footsteps and try to live in this world as he did, with his same attitudes and reactions. For each of us, becoming holy is a process of trying to be more like Jesus each day.
Because we are all different, holiness will look different for everyone. But we all seek holiness in the same way — by trying in every moment to cooperate with God’s will and to let him act through our words and deed. We seek holiness by trying to serve our neighbors and give glory of God in everything.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has said, “Do not be afraid of holiness! Do not be afraid to aim high, to let yourself be loved and purified by God.”
Holiness is our task, our vocation. Of every one of us.
Holiness is not something heroic or extraordinary. It is ordinary. It comes in being cheerful, doing our normal work, carrying out our daily duties, no matter how small, with love for God and concern for others.
It is all about witness, about the imitation of Jesus Christ, taking his way, following his path.
To be a child of God means that God wants us to grow up to be saints. As we know, saints are not just those men and women who the Church recognizes and canonizes as saints. St. Paul said that “all God’s beloved … are called to be saints.”
And God does not call us to something that he will not help us achieve. This is the work of the Church — to show us the way of Jesus and to sanctify us and make us holy. To make us saints.
The Church gives us the path to holiness — especially through the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and Confession. If we let ourselves, God will use these means to change us — to make us people who have hearts of mercy, people who are kind and humble, meek and patient.
So God is calling all of us to be saints. Saints of the everyday and missionaries of his love — to bear witness to his love in the ordinary events and activities of our daily lives.
We are not here only to seek our own holiness. God wants to sanctify the whole world through his Church, through the lives of each one of his children. So he wants us to do our part — to spread his Kingdom of holiness and justice, love and peace.
So this week let’s make that our prayer for one another — that we grow in our desire to be holy and to help others to become holy. Let’s make holiness our hope and make a new commitment to follow the path of Jesus and to let his love work in our lives.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to grow in our awareness that we are children of God, who are made for holiness.
Archbishop Gomez’s CPA Award-winning book, “Immigration and the Next America,”is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.