Intentional Holiness

5.29.18  Tues. wk. 8 – Ordinary Time (II)
1st Letter of St. Peter 1: 10 – 16
Gospel  of  Mark  10:  28 – 31    

Peter began to say to †Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.”  †Jesus said, “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: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.  But many that are first will be last, and [the] last will be first.”        The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy     Intentional Holiness

“We have given up everything to follow you;” (Mk.10:28) Peter was responding to the words of †Jesus: “How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God”. (Mk.10:23)  I don’t know if you remember the readings from yesterday’s Mass.   There was a rich man who would not accept the invitation to follow †Jesus.  He just could not separate himself from all of his possessions – to work for the building of the Kingdom.  The apostles were just dumbfounded – because in the Jewish culture at the time – if you had lots of possessions it meant that you were very favored by God.  And so – if this person whom they assumed was favored by God – was going to have difficulty getting into the Kingdom of heaven – what about them?  They were just normal, poor people.    So they were confused. 

In his recent exhortation on ‘The Call to Holiness in the Modern World’, Pope Francis reminds us that our personal mission in life is inseparable from the building up of the Kingdom of God.  In Matthew’s Gospel, †Jesus taught: “Strive first for the Kingdom of God and its righteousness”. (Matt.6:33)  The Pope writes: “Your identification with Christ and His will, involves a commitment to build with Him, that Kingdom of love and justice and universal peace”. (Gaudium et Exsultate, 25)  So we are called to be involved with the building of the Kingdom.  We can’t grow in holiness, we cannot be saints without committing our self completely to the building of the ‘Kingdom of God’.  Just as †Jesus taught in the two great commandments: “You must love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind – and you must love your neighbor as yourself”. (Matt.22:36ff)  That has to be part of our life.  We cannot expect to grow in holiness simply by spending our lives on our knees in prayer; it has to be much more than just that.  We are called to be ‘Contemplatives in Action’.  Our prayer must be lived – in how we love – and how we serve other people. 

Pope Francis writes in “Gaudete et Exsultate: “It is not healthy to love silence – while fleeing interaction with others.  To want peace and quiet – while avoiding activity.  To seek prayer – while disdaining service”. (#26)   Our path to holiness, includes our life – ‘in the world’.  We cannot escape the world and live our call to holiness – we must be involved in serving others.  That’s how we build up the Kingdom – by serving others.  Now, sometimes we might see our Gospel call to service as a distraction.  We want to relegate these distractions, this serving people, to second place, because we want to take care of our self, first.  (As a priest, this can be a terrible temptation.   I’m in the midst of something and the phone rings or I get a call from the secretary – or I have to run to the hospital.)  Responding to the call to holiness comes through distractions.  Pope Francis reminds us: “We forget that life does not have a mission – but – is a mission”. (ibid. 27)  Life IS a mission. 

But there is also the danger that our ‘Pastoral Charity’ can become a barrier to holiness.  It might seem like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth but – I am not – trust me.  Pastoral Charity becomes a barrier when the work of service is done out of a sense of anxiety, pride, or the need to impress other people.  When that happens – it’s not doing us any good.

Pope Francis instructs us: “We are challenged to show our commitment in such a way that everything we do, has evangelical meaning and identifies us all the more with †Jesus Christ”. (ibid. 28)   And the Pope calls us to see: “Spirituality in everything we do – ‘The Spirituality of the Catechists, the Spirituality of the Diocesan Priesthood; the Spirituality of Work…the Spirituality of Mission…an Ecological Spirituality, and…a Spirituality of Family Life’”. (ibid) 

By recognizing everything in life is shot through by the Spirit of God, by the Holy Spirit; everything, then, is a part of our spirituality – and every activity will help build up the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, every daily experience can be a step on the journey to holiness.                      

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.