Living holy in the day-to-day today | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Feb. 12—6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Sirach 15:15-20; Psalm 19, R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!; 1 Cor 2:6-10; Gospel—Matthew 5:17-37

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) This line, which ends next Sunday’s Gospel, gives us the overarching theme of this and next Sunday’s Gospels.

In Leviticus (19: 2) God tells his people, “You shall be holy; for I Yahweh your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).

I invite you to reflect on God’s call to holiness. Three elements of holiness: First, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (cf. today’s Gospel, Matthew 5: 17-37)

Second, Christian holiness comes from the fulfillment of the law, the basic covenant between God and his people, with us; the law as fulfilled by Jesus.

Third, holiness is lived in the day to day, and in very concrete circumstances of our life.

More pastoral

The critique of the Lord of the religious authorities of his time we liken to Pope Francis’ early statement when he assumed the papacy in 2013, i.e., we should be more pastoral and less dogmatic.

Just as Pope Francis did not throw dogma out but created—still creating—a balance between dogma and pastoral care, so it was with the Lord, “ … unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees.”

I would like to consider that there is an implicit recognition of some righteousness, but in need of “surpassing.” This is one of the key elements of “holy, sinful church,” always in need of reform and conversion.

Holiness, thus, includes our acknowledgment of our need for continuing conversion, the humility to accept our shortcomings and the need for God’s grace.

Second, holiness comes from the fulfillment of the law. We must establish here that the two great traditions of the People of God were the law and the prophets, represented by Moses and Elijah, respectively in the Transfiguration.

The Transfiguration was an affirmation of Jesus’ continuity of these two great traditions. Not just continuity, but fulfillment.

He fulfills the law by defining the greatest of all commandments—love: love one another as I have loved you; love God with all our heart, mind and soul; love our enemies.

This is the fulfillment of the law, which started with the basic relationship between God and us in the Old Testament, “I will be your God, you will be my people” (Exodus 6:7), and developed into our becoming sons and daughters in the Lord, “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to me.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

‘Missing link’

Thus, the law is fulfilled, perfected in the great commandment of love, perfected in Jesus our Lord who is perfect love on the Cross and in the Resurrection.

The third element—and perhaps the most important one, the “missing link”—is living out holiness in the day to day.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives very concrete instances of how we are to surpass the righteousness, the holiness of the Pharisees then. These examples we must put in our daily context and the challenges of living out our faith here and now.

In the ‘70s, one articulation of this was “the faith that does justice.” Pope Francis gave his own articulation at the start of his papacy. God is mercy.

In 2025, we will celebrate a Jubilee Year in the church. It will be a Jubilee of Hope.

This is the third element of our holiness, to live out our faith in the concrete circumstances of our time and situation.

We are emerging from the global pandemic which has exposed so many ills of our social, economic, cultural and political situation. To live holy lives requires our engaging with and in our world to address these ills.

From this we move forward building the Kingdom of God in our midst. This is the call to and the only path towards holiness.



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