The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the whole Israelite community, and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells all humanity, Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Are we expected to be as holy and perfect as God?
We might dismiss these commands as impossible, but that would be a mistake. God is not commanding us to do what he does; he is commanding us to be who he has created us to be, which we can only do with the help of his grace.
It is for this reason he has given us the Church with her sacraments, the Scriptures and her teaching authority. Through baptism, we have everything we need to live a supernatural life in intimacy with God who created us out of love.
The obstacle we all face is the pressure from the world in which we live, to shape how we look at ourselves and how we plan our future. In the second reading we are told, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God… Yes, it is necessary for us to advance our education and understanding of the things that make us responsible citizens. However, when the wisdom of this world contradicts the wisdom of God, there will be consequences that will cause turmoil and the loss of hope.
An Amazing Example
Recently, I watched a movie about St. Josephine Bakhita. She was kidnapped as a child from a wealthy family in Sudan by slave traders and sold into slavery. She was tortured and frequently beaten for many years until by providence she was temporarily placed in a convent in Italy while her mistress traveled on personal business. During her time in the convent, she learned about the love of God and was attracted to the religious life. When her owner returned to reclaim her, she refused to leave and was eventually granted her freedom through the courts. Her new life and vocation brought her great joy; she said if she would ever meet those who sold her into slavery, she would kneel and kiss their hands because it was through her terrible fate that she discovered the love of God and her new life in service to him.
She received the sacraments of the Church by Archbishop Giuseppe Sarto who later became Pope Pius X. Bakhita was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.
St. Josephine Bakhita, who was known for her deep prayer life and for totally giving herself in the service of God and others, has received the perfection that we all hope for and that is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. We may never experience the terrible sufferings of St. Josephine Bakhita, but we must choose God above all else as she did.
Perseverance & Inspiration
The trials and suffering we experience in this life are an opportunity to draw close to Christ and receive the grace he will offer us if we approach him with sincere and contrite hearts. If we persevere in faith and make every effort to over come sin and grow in virtue, with God’s grace, we will be as holy and perfect as is necessary to live in Christ’s presence in heaven.
One of the treasures of our Catholic faith is the vast collection of stories about men and women who became saints during their life on earth. Their lives are so amazing; they have inspired other men and women to become saints! We can learn from them how to deepen our faith and trust in God when we are faced with trials and discouragement. Every saint we read about experienced difficult and sometimes severe circumstances, and yet they were still filled with great joy and happiness because of God’s grace. I encourage you to prayerfully choose a saint to read about and to ask for their intercession during your morning prayer. You will be glad you did.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.