Let’s begin tonight by asking this question.
Who do we know, given our own understandings is “Holy”? Who do we consider “Holy”?
In a recent survey by the Barna Group…..a large research organization focused on the Christian experience….there were some startling facts….about today’s culture…and our current understandings. Only 21% of people who were asked if they considered themselves “holy” answered in the affirmative. 21%…one of every five people….who professed to be Christian believed that they themselves were holy.
On the other hand 73% believed that they were called to live a “holy” life by their belief in Jesus Christ.
So now let me ask….did any of us include ourselves in the answer to the first two questions I asked tonight?
Somehow my friends, we have succumbed in many ways to one of the greatest cultural lies of the 21 st Century….somehow we have allowed ourselves to come to understand that we are not a “holy” people. Somehow many of us have decided that we can try, but we will probably never be or live up to being “holy”…. And sometimes, it has been fostered by errant preaching on Gospel stories like that of which we heard tonight. Turn the other cheek?
Love your enemy?
Be perfect as God is perfect.
Sometimes this Gospel has been misused and misaligned to keep people in unhealthy and damaging relationships….as if holiness is an invitation to being abused and used. Nothing could be further from the truth my friends….nothing…. There is a context…a bigger picture and a bigger understanding as well. Let me be crystal clear…it is never God’s will for us to be or remain in relationships that bring us harm! Ever!
We are called and invited to “holiness” We are called to be, as the final line of the Gospel says,: be perfect as our God is perfect. In fact many biblical scholars believe that those words are in the future tense….be perfected as your God is perfect. You see being holy is a process of becoming like God…not an event!
If we walked up to any “holy” person we know and said….wow you are “holy” they would deny it! And most likely say, “no I just try to be!” Saints—or holy people….they do not walk around just being “holy”….they walk around, just like you and I, trying to be, trying to live as the best possible person they can be!
Holy people create Holy Moments!!!!!!!!!
So what’s a Holy Moment?
A Holy Moment is when we are being the person God created us to be and doing what we believe God is inviting us to do in that moment! A Holy Moment is when we set aside our own ego, our own desires, our own self interest and we embrace what will be the most good for the most people in that moment! In other words my friends we create “holy moments” every time we live into being our very best self! I hope that we change our minds about what it means to be “holy”… Do we always turn the other cheek? I doubt it? Sometimes we shouldn’t…it’s a struggle to discern when we are being invited to holiness and when we are being abused.
Do we always give to every person who begs? I doubt it? And we sometimes we shouldn’t, because it is not always the best thing for them, we have to struggle with that discernment. Do we always love our enemies? I know I don’t always do that, but I struggle to try, to begin, to fight the temptation of my own ego to strike back in anger.
Holiness is a process of self-reflection, and self-expression…we learn to manifest what we believe….and I know one thing with absolute certainty…we all were created in the image of God…we all were and are created holy.
I heard one time many years ago, an awesome concept of our final judgment before our God.
And I have been thinking about it a lot lately….especially given the deaths in my own life…. I heard it said: When we show up and we stand before our God, I doubt there will be a question about how many times we went to Mass or said our prayers or any number of other things that we have often used to judge our orthodoxy…it will be only one question…Jesus will ask? Did you love me? And if we answer yes….he will say…. Show me your scars!
My friends….as we approach this Lenten season….I hope we can intentionally spend these coming 40 days, creating holy moments…moments in which God becomes evident to others by the way we live our lives.