On Holiness

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan.  A guy is badly hurt and is laying on the side of the road.  A Jewish Priest was traveling by, and when he saw the man, passed by on the other side.  A Levite came by, and likewise went on his way.  Lastly a Samaritan approaches, and on seeing the man, is moved with pity for him.  He binds his wounds and takes him to an inn, paying for whatever the poor man may need in advance.  Jews and Samaritans hate each other very much, and it is considered bad form on either side to speak to the other, much less help.  Also, the cultural law of the Jews of the time forbidden touching a dead body.  The other two were doing what society expected them to do, and the Samaritan was defying both traditions.  Notice, these are cultural traditions, not moral law.

What was different between the priest and Levite vs the Samaritan?  Their definition of holiness.  The first two though holiness was what many people today mistake it as: Not doing something bad.  I mean, that’s essential if you want to be a good person, but it’s not the end.  You don’t become a New York Times bestselling author by just buying paper and a pencil.  You have to write the novel first.  Not doing bad acts should be the foundation of doing good acts.  Imagine if you came home every day, and it was a meal you don’t like very much.  It’s not bad, it’s just not good either.  Holiness is achieved through actions, not absence of bad.  Holiness is when you come home and its root beer floats, french fries and your favorite pizza for dinner…while watching the complete Star Wars you just got on Amazon.  That’s holiness in that analogy.  The bland lunch would be something the Church classifies as lukewarmness.  In Revelation, Jesus talks about lukewarm people.  Does he say that they’re “Good enough.  You can go to Heaven”.  No.  He says that He will “spew you out of His mouth”.  I don’t think that falls under the category of “good enough”.

If your soul is a fire, a blazing campfire with thirty pounds of gasoline and hairspray is holiness.  That’s like St. Francis or St. Dominic.  It’s huge, it’s bright, and it ain’t going out any time soon.  An evil spirit is like a bunch of logs, sitting there, not doing much.  It’s hard to light, but once it’s lit, it will burn for a good long while.  A lukewarm spirit is like a fire that went out.  It is easy to light back up again, but it will go out as soon as a breeze passes by.  A lukewarm heart if the hardest to light back up again.  That’s why Jesus spews it out of His mouth.  Personally, I think lukewarm water tastes a little like saltwater, nasty.  Be the holy fire.  If you’re big enough, your embers will fly to other logs and light them as well.

Right before Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan, his questioner outlines the greatest commandment.  “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind.  And your neighbor as yourself”.  Jesus outlined how to love your neighbor as yourself in the parable.  But He kinda leaves us hanging with the first one, which is the more important of the two.  He doesn’t elaborate much on that.  I wonder why.  Here’s an idea, maybe He did.  I mean, if He only told only one parable, that would be all He needed to tell on the matter.  So, how do we love God with all our heart, being, strength and mind?  Its easy.  You love your neighbor as yourself.  I’ll rephrase that.  The answer is obvious, but definitely not easy to carry out.  Jesus said later on in the Gospel,”whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you did unto me”.  So, however nice we be to others is how nice we’re being to God (essentially).  If someone shuns a friend, or talks back to a teacher, or even harms another, they’re doing it to Jesus.  The horizontal effects the vertical.  What we do to each other affects what we do to God.  Don’t get me confused though.  I’m not saying that you should quit praying so you can have more time to help the poor.  God should be the focus.  You help others because you can see God in them.  I am saying that the way you physically can love God, is by loving others.

Holiness is the end of the human journey.  Once you achieve perfect holiness in heaven, you will be perfectly happy.  Here’s a tip:

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2 thoughts on “On Holiness

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