Be Holy as I am Holy!
“Be Holy as I am Holy!” : mere advice, or a command? Is being holy something we can do on our own? We, expert in all that is technical; can we make ourselves become holy? The idea of making oneself holy is illusory. The Lord desired sharing this gift with us. Holiness is such a precious gift, and without it, it is impossible to enjoy the eternal goods of Paradise. God wants his children with him, He wants them to be eternally happy. For this reason He sent His Son who let His heart be pierced so we could receive the Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit that makes us holy, and this is the secret. To receive the Holy Spirit doesn’t take any particular ability, but just an open heart, and the willingness to receive His vital breath. He helps us to prefer virtue over vice by educating our will and purifying our heart. This is the only way we can hope to become holy, that the way to Paradise can be opened for us.
Gift already granted
We received the gift without cost at our baptism. We don’t need to “procure” the Spirit. He already lives in us. However, we have a great responsibility in the use of our freedom by which we can choose God – and allow Him to act in us – or prefer other types of spirits. But we know where these others spirits will lead us. There are heaps of spirits, that come from below and that lead us downwards by awakening in us bass appetites, such as hunger for power, supremacy, control, money, pleasure, self-satisfaction. All these spirits are at the service of our ego, ready to satisfy our every selfish thirst. However, they distance us from the living water that gushes forth from the Truth, from the side of Christ that was opened by the lance, and which is continuously opened on every altar so that we can receive His own holy and immaculate life.
“Unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Jesus told Nicodemus (Jn 3:3), but faced with the Pharisee’s bewilderment, He adds: “… unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” This re-birth in us came by virtue of our baptism, but to stay alive in God without falling into the trap of sin that keeps us held “down”, we need to “choose” God’s Spirit, to decide for God.
At Medjugorje, Our Lady has told us many times to “decide for God; place God first” which means to let Him be part of our day-to-day living; allow His thoughts to penetrate ours and guide them towards concrete choices. With the many options that come in a day we will know which ones to prefer, and with time the Will of God will take the place of ours as we allow God to take hold of the helm.
Haven’t we begun the day by placing it in God’s hands, and found ourselves obstinately wanting to do something and not being able to, so that in the end we have to give up the initiative, and then discover that the end result is just right, and the way undertaken… unthinkable? These “inspirations” might be silent for the mind, but for the ears of the soul and the intelligence of the heart they are loud and clear, and they are fundamental for directing our steps towards divine Wisdom. To be aware of them, however, we need to silence the other voices that crowd our minds: the voices of our human logic and reasoning, of our worries and fears, or uncertainty, and of our pride and arrogance which make us always want the last word. There are also holy words that need silencing – words picked up perhaps from a book, or a philosopher, or even our own charismas (real or presumed) that stop being gifts when we use them for our own purposes, and instead become disastrous for everyone.
Brave the void
We need to create inner silence, and have the courage to face the void where there are no words or interior discussions; and overcome the fear of the lack of sounds (today’s society bombards us with noises, and many prefer to let themselves be deafened by this noise rather than feel the sting of solitude). If we create the right conditions, through prayer, the Spirit will speak to us, but not with human words. His whisper is “as light as the breeze,” the prophet Elijah tells us. So let’s fight the temptation to try interpreting it, and let our spirit free to receive the impulses and act consequently… or in other words, simply obey.
To do this, however, we must be docile, which means willing to change our plans if necessary to adhere to a different will. We also need to fulfil the act with facts by using our faculties generously and with trust, without calculating what we might gain. It’s like handing over a blank cheque to the Holy Spirit, and in exchange you receive a good that you still cannot see, though you know you will receive it. God doesn’t leave us in a void, or abandon us to fumble in the dark - and we must believe this! He will come with the promised good, but only when we shall be ready to receive it. So it is necessary that we begin by investing in God’s time, which we know “isn’t our time,” and wait. And in the meantime we will learn patience. Patience is fundamental in the journey of holiness.
Dare to be holy
It is fundamental that we audaciously follow God’s requests, which at times might seem to surpass our strength and disposition (“Love each other as I have loved you, forgive your enemies…” How many situations in our life that seem impossible!) It is then that we must invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit because without His power certain things are beyond us.
Divine power will respond promptly, but God wants us to take the first step, that is, to exercise our will as a type of starter engine for the action of the Holy Spirit. This act of will, in all appearance a loss, purifies our heart and qualifies us for new steps ahead.
Self-entrustment helps avoid failure
At this point, let us suppose we have done what we were meant to do, but with zero results. We can now be discouraged by it all, and we can decide to take the human roads – the wider ones where our human justice finds plenty of room for expression. But this is what the world does. What is being asked of us, instead?
The remedy comes from the act of unreserved self-donation to God. This is the capacity of putting ourselves aside and accepting to be losers, defeated and humiliated. It also means to surrender up the temptation to concentrate on the humiliation we have received by feeling sorry for ourselves, or think we have been victimized. In fact, these are like swamps with quicksand that draw us down into the spirals of self-pity and depression.
Self-donation, on the other hand, means to let it all go: both the idea of the good fruits, and the idea of poor results. Our only response is to adore God, and acknowledge His goodness and His lordship and His love in our life. Here then, we have the space where God’s Spirit can now act. In our nothingness His everything will be made manifest, and that which only a short while ago seemed opaque and worthless, will suddenly acquire a new light that will light up future horizons.
Consecrated to the All Fair (Tota Pulchra)
If Jesus is in us, and if we allow Him to act freely in us through His Holy Spirit, we will begin to live out the Beatitudes (the articles of the Chart of holiness), and they will be woven into our day-to-day lives.
Be holy for I am holy! This will be easy if we become wise, by consecrating our entire day to Jesus and His holy Mother. Consecrating oneself means to make holy our every thought, action and reaction. The act of consecration that we make must not be just a prayer we recite, but the expression of our will to sacrifice our own way of facing the day. This is the meaning of holy: sacrifice something to God so He can use it, in the certainty that our sacrifice will not remain fruitless. At the end of our life we will be able to present to the Father in heaven a basket overflowing with fruits: abundant holiness to thank Him for the gift of the Spirit - who is holy and makes us holy.