by Fr Richard Heilman | January 15, 2017 2:28 PM
St. Paul said, in today’s second reading, “…you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy.” If you boil it all down, everything we do at our parishes revolves around making saints … accepting our call to be holy.
Knowing we are called to be holy means that we realize we are not just this shell of a body … rather we are a combination of “body and soul” … as the old catechisms put it; “the dust of the earth and the breath of God.”
Just as the Spirit came down on Jesus, we have received that same Spirit through the anointing with Chrism Oil we received in our Baptism and, then again, in our Confirmation. Here’s why …
In the resurrection account, Jesus enters the locked room (representing the barriers of fear we throw up) where the disciples (the first bishops) were, and He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In an unbroken succession down to our bishops today, that breath inhaled is then breathed out onto the Chrism Oil blessed every year during Holy Week. That’s right, the bishops do not bless with their hands, but with their breath, as they blow with their breath a sign of the cross over all of the Chrism Oil that will be used for Baptisms and Confirmations in their dioceses.
So, by our Baptism and Confirmation, you and I have been “anointed” … empowered to bring the power of the Holy Spirit in all of the missions He gives us. “The Lord is my strength,” as we heard today from Isaiah. This is a strength to do His will … “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will,” as the psalmist proclaimed today.
Are we free to do His will? Are we holy? What is holiness? About 90% of what we know for living holy lives comes from what we have learned through such sources as the bible and catechism. The other 10% comes from an ability to listen to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit that speaks to our heart. In other words, holy people are “easy to move” by God … they stand ready and willing to move as the Spirit inspires. Holy people are not so fixated on their own needs and desires that they have little or nothing left for the Lord and others. No, they are not “high-maintenance” but they are “low-maintenance” … they are free and easy to move and serve.
Here are three ways Holiness is seen as this “low-maintenance.”
Holy People are Selfless – Someone who is truly selfless is free to take the focus off of themselves and place it on others. They tend to be very easy to be around, because they are, quite simply, “not needy.” Selfless people aren’t looking for “special” attention and, in fact, can easily just blend into any situation. That’s not to say they cannot be the “life of the party,” so to speak – in fact, they often have a well-developed sense of humor, because of their perpetual desire to brighten other people’s day – but, there is no sense of an unsettling urgency, among those who encounter them, to try to fix them. They are low-maintenance.
Holy People are Forgiving – Forgiving people give others a lot of latitude … they assume the best in others, not the worst. Sometimes people will be hurt by another, and they not only find it hard to forgive that person, but they can become guarded and suspicious about all persons. This can cause the person to be curt and bitter and kind of a sourpuss. This air of negativity can make people around them feel uneasy and, for most good people, they feel compelled to begin to search for solutions to assist the person in feeling joy again. The forgiving person has learned to let bygones be bygones and move on. They are low-maintenance.
Holy People Hope in God – While we all go through difficult times; hopeful people tend not to linger in anxiety or sorrow for too long. They have seen God’s merciful love come to their aid before, and they have no reason to doubt God will abandon them now. Again, this frees them to “be for others.” I’ve known people who have gone through some monumental challenges, and you simply would not know it by their demeanor. They are low-maintenance.
We all need to be this low-maintenance, easy to be around, holy person. In other words, we are free and we are “approachable.” People need to sense we are not so absorbed with our own needs and wants that we have little or no time or energy for them. We cannot be “self-absorbed” if we are called to “be for others.”
Ask God to help you to get over yourself. Be low-maintenance. Be holy.
(This was my Homily today)
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