My Dear Sisters and Brothers! After you have heard God’s words: ‘Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy’ and ‘You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect,’ do you feel now like those youngsters? Do you think: ‘This is for people like Mary Mackillop, John Paul II, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St Francis, and the Little Flower but not really for me’? Do you think that it is an extremely high benchmark?
Let me first tell you of an event from the life of St Albert who was a saint dear to St John Paul II. As a young man Albert joined the Jesuits. He truly made a big effort to sort out his life. He quitted smoking. He worked hard on his character. He pushed himself to pray well, to study diligently and to work productively. He was a gifted artist so he decided to spend his free time to improve his technique. One day he was in the town where he saw a man dropping a cigarette. Albert picked it up and started smoking like crazy. When he finished it hit him what had just happened. He was weak. He failed his resolutions. It broke him mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He ended up suffering from depression. He left the Jesuits and for months lived in a dark place. Do you think that the cigarette was a problem? The cigarette was not a problem. What was in his head and heart was a problem, the way he thought he should be holy and perfect. It was a problem. It was all about his efforts, him trying hard, him pushing himself. When he faced his weakness and failure it overwhelmed him.
If it is our way of living the call to be holy and perfect we will also end up in a similar dark place. That’s why I would like to take you to a brighter place where you can be exposed to holiness and perfection. I mean heaven.
Prophet Isaiah once was given a glimpse of heaven. There he saw the angels and seraphim worshipping God and saying: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord. His glory fills the earth.’ Holy is only God. Holiness is God’s lifestyle. God who is Holy, holy, holy as we proclaim it at every Mass, has given us an uplifting assurance in another heavenly vision. Prophet Ezekiel saw in his vision the Jerusalem Temple from which a stream of crystal clear water was flowing. As it few through he desert it turned the dead terrain into a fertile land. This is the image of God’s holiness which overflows and reaches us. Holiness and perfection are not what we do for God but what God has done for us.
My Dear fellow believers! Believe that the live giving stream of God’s holiness and perfection reaches you too.
The words of the Holy and Perfect God still resound in your heart and mind. You don’t hear about holiness and perfection. The words of the Holy and Perfect God fill you with his holiness and perfection by means of hearing the Word of God.
The Body and Blood of the Holy and Perfect God are given to you. Can you be not holy if you receive the Holy One of God? Love this Holy, holy, holy Lord who fills you with his own holiness and perfection. Contemplate him not yourself. It was what moved Albert out of his dark place. He focused on God by serving the poorest of the poor. It attracted some followers and eventually he founded a religious order of brothers to serve the poor. When he was dying his followers gathered around him to glimpse some of his holiness. Sure they did. Albert knew that there was a brother who despite trying couldn’t quit smoking. It made the brother sad. So in a final act on earth Albert asked for a cigarette, although he was not a smoker any more, and he smoked it to cheer up his fellow brother who was upset by his own weakness. What an example of holiness and perfection! Before his soul left his body it did leave behind his selfishness and self-absorption which are our modern pandemic. The healing of that is not in trying harder but humbly accepting the Holy, holy, holy Lord so that not just the earth but you and me could be filled with his glory.
We are holy because our heavenly Father is holy.