The final words of the first reading come directly from the Hebrew Scriptures. These words are repeated three times in the Book of Leviticus and are closely associated with the notion of keeping the commandments that are set out in that book. It would, therefore, be easy to conclude that holiness consists in simply keeping the commandments.
Holiness, however, is not just a matter of being a law-abiding Christian but stands at the beginning and center of God's call on all of our lives. The most basic meaning of the word “holy” is to be "set apart" or "dedicated" to God—to belong to God. It is, therefore, a matter of our relationship with God. To be holy means to be in right relationship with God. To understand what it means to belong to God, we must look to Jesus. The revelation of God, which started in the Hebrew Scriptures, is completed in Jesus. Consequently, preeminent in our understanding of what it means to belong to God is being united to Christ. St. Paul tells us very clearly in the Letter to the Galatians: I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Being holy, therefore, means uniting ourselves to Christ and allowing Jesus to live in us.
That’s where the hard part comes. If we allow Jesus to live in us, then our lives must be conformed to his. His life, of course, was conformed to the cross. Consequently, we cannot be holy unless we are bonded to Christ Crucified. Allow me to rearrange the words of the first sentence in the reading from the First Letter of Peter: The Spirit of Christ within the prophets indicated our salvation when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories to follow them.
What are the glories that follow our sufferings? The Gospel spells that out today: Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age.
The Eucharist reminds us of this every day for we would not have the Eucharist were it not for Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator