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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
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A CALL TO HOLINESS

HOLINESS IS FOR EVERYONE. MANY of us think it is beyond us or that any such aim is reserved for priests and religious. But the truth is that God calls us all to grow in holiness and gives us all the help we need so long as we are ready to trust him. Any occupation in life can lead to holiness because it is essentially God’s work in us. Everyone’s life is different and we all experience a variety of trials and joys, but through them all God leads us on if only we will let him. The Second Vatican Council - ‘The Church’ states: “All the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord each in his own way, to the perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect.”

One finds holiness and divine genius in everything. Those with peaceful hearts reflect their inner tranquillity in every detail in life. Holiness consists not in doing uncommon things, but in doing common things with uncommon fervour. Mother Teresa says, “Holiness is not a luxury for the few, it is not just for some people. It is meant for you and for me and for all of us. It is a simple duty, because if we learn to love, we learn to be holy.”

John Henry Newman declares: “To obtain the gift of holiness is the work of a lifetime.” Holiness means separateness and distinctness from the world. Holiness is primarily the attribute of God and, just as a mobile phone gets charged by being connected to the mains, so too, we become holy by being connected to God. Our holiness must flow from our behaviour. St Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? ... God’s temple is holy and that temple you are.”

During Lent, the Christian is often invited to meditate on the laws of God, the “ten commandments” and the explanation of those commandments is an important part of the instructions given to people preparing to receive Baptism. These short and easy to remember precepts are a summary of all that the people of Israel had to observe to show their love for God and for their fellow humans. They can be compared to road signs that are not placed there to limit our freedom, but to teach and show us the right way. Whoever follows the way proposed by God will be freed from his passions and selfishness, will not waste his life and the life of others, and will truly become a free and happy person.

The Ten Commandments were good only for the people of Israel in the Old Testament. But are they still valid for us today? Our Lord Jesus Christ once summarised them by two commandments: Love God and love your neighbour (Mt 22: 34-40). He went even further and assured us that we will be judged according to how we love our neighbour. St Paul says: “To love the other person is to fulfil the law. All these... You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase: You must love your neighbour as yourself” (Rom 13: 8-9).

Clearly, the commandment of love contains all other commandments. Love is much more demanding than any other law. For instance, none of the ten commandments forces me to love my enemy, forgive unconditionally, share my goods generously with the poor, lay down my life for my brother and sister. The law of love binds me to constant attention to discover what I can do for my brother and sister to make them happy. The ten commandments help me to foster my understanding of what is the true good for people, and where it lies. However, it does not  fulfil the whole law since as St Paul says: “Only love is the fulfilment of the Law” (Rom 13: 10).

St John is very emphatic when he says: “If anyone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4: 20). Therefore, it is by the love that we show our neighbour that the true love of God is made manifest in our lives. We must show respect for what he is and what he has. We must be willing to help him in his temporal and especially his spiritual needs. There is no saint in heaven who hated or despised his neighbour. There is no one damned in hell who really fulfilled the command to love and help his neighbour during his time on earth.

We should pause to think and ask ourselves the following questions: “Do I really love God? Am I on the right road to heaven?” The answer will depend on a truthful answer to this other question: “Do I love my neighbour as myself?”

Faith in Jesus Christ must find expression in works of justice, charity, mercy and compassion for faith without works  is dead. Jesus Christ said to his Apostles: “You must be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5: 48).

Bernard Haring says, “Those who celebrate the Eucharist intensely ... will give that witness of cordial love and harmonious interaction that becomes a sign, grace and call to unity for all people.” The Eucharist invites the Christian to live a life of sharing. It motivates justice and humble service. Christ has shared his body and blood with humanity. He now challenges believers to go and do the same. Those who partake in Eucharistic celebration daily or weekly have even a greater responsibility to share their talents and resources to humanise the world, to reconcile human beings with one another and with God, and to consecrate all of creation to the Father.

The true celebration of the Eucharist will mean  a radical change not only in outlook but  also  in posture, not only in minds but also  in  heart, not  only  in  world view but also in behaviour, not only in thought but also in action.

-FEMI ADEOGUN

femiadeogun@gmail.com

 


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