Holiness Isn't Optional: 22nd Sunday OT

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/a-time-for-saints

https://twitter.com/brandonmcg/status/1034657045193142272

(thread) https://twitter.com/HaleyCarrots/status/1033692876700635137

https://www.carrotsformichaelmas.com/2018/08/28/the-church-my-mother/

The loud and clear and incredibly beautiful reaction I keep seeing from faithful Catholics who are so hurt and appalled by clerical scandals boils down to one thing: “We’ve got to be holy. I’ve got to be holy.” Who would have thought that rage and disgust could be such a great motivator to holiness? But I feel it too and, I hope, so do you. We’re needed, now more than ever. And it does have a certain logic to it. We feel down to our core that the Church is supposed to be holy. We’re not seeing the holiness we know should be there. So what’s the response?

Maybe there’s sometimes a temptation to leave the holiness to others, to feel like we can be sort of average — we wouldn’t use the words lukewarm or mediocre, but that’s what we’re really saying — and someone else will bring the holiness. But that’s not good enough and there are moments when it’s impossible to pretend it is. We can’t be like the cowardly, lazy bystander saying “someone should do something.” But what can we do? We can be the kind of Christians that Christians are supposed to be. Which isn’t lukewarm; lukewarm isn’t enough in the face of betrayals from Judas on down to the present day. And so we’re needed, now more than ever. To be holy.

Moses dreamed of the People of God living in a way that made the world take notice, that made people attracted and converted to the God who gave such wisdom and truth. Moses says, “Observe these laws carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people,’ for what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him?”

I don’t know about you but I read Moses’ words with mixed feelings. I share the gratitude for the gift of the commandments. But how are we doing on that vision of their evangelistic power? Is anybody looking at the Church and thinking “Wow, look how wise and intelligent their lives are! That God of theirs must be worth knowing!”

If they aren’t, scandal and hypocrisy aren’t helping. But here’s the scary truth: the people of this community, our unchurched neighbors in Gallatin County and southern Illinois, where do they get their most powerful impression and judgment of the Catholic Church? It’s not from the worst sinners among priests and bishops. It’s not from the Pope. It’s not from the stories of Saints now in Heaven. Your neighbors do not judge the Catholic Church mostly by looking any of them. They are mostly looking at you.

The people within miles of this spot will judge the Church based mostly on what they see from the people in this room. You know that’s true. If we are all hypocrites, it won’t matter to them how nice the Pope is or how amazing St. Therese was. They’ll think Christianity makes hypocrites and that those stories are anomalies, exceptions. And if we are all holy, they’ll see that before they see the actions of the worst sinners on the news. They’ll think Christianity makes people holy and those stories are anomalies, exceptions. Somebody wisely said ‘take care because you may be the only Bible some people ever read.’ I’ll just add that even if that’s not the case, you’re still probably the loudest Bible they’ll ever read.

I don’t hear most of the world out there marveling at how wise and intelligent our doctrine is. I hear them mocking it and calling it out-dated, stupid, ridiculous, and even dangerous. That’s all the more reason to let God’s law be seen in action, be seen working in us and on us. All the more reason to double down on our own commitment and fidelity. Because along with the mocking and dismissal, there are still those who are captivated and drawn to the wisdom of God’s law. Some are jaded by the soulless, shallow life offered by an increasingly godless culture. Some are hurting and scarred by the choices they’ve made. The hope of something better is a breath of fresh air. They see the splendor of truth.

How brightly it shines, how clearly it’s shown, is up to us. There’s only one person in the world I can actually make chaste, and that’s me. There’s only one person in the world you can actually make chaste, and that’s you. There’s only one person in the world you can make welcoming to the stranger. One person you can make generous. One person whose lifestyle you can make more simple for the sake of sharing with others. Whose prayer life you can make consistent and solid. Whose anger you can control. Whose vows you can keep. Whose vocation you can follow with trust and courage.

Ultimately the Law of God is not about fixing up the appearances of things. It’s about forming and reforming our hearts. It is what’s within, Jesus says, that makes us holy or makes us defiled. Changing the world starts with changing our lives. Changing our lives starts with changing our hearts. Changing our hearts is what the Holy Spirit does best. Let’s ask Him, let’s beg Him for that conversion. We’re needed, now more than ever.

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