On the road to holiness



“I will tell of your name to my brethren and praise you where they are assembled” (Psalm 22).   

A friend recently shared with me that his deceased wife’s favorite Bible passage was 2 Tim 4: 6-7: “For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” He said that he was reminded of this when he attended daily Mass on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. During the phone conversation, he mentioned how he appreciated both men because they were so human in their behavior and faults. He said, “It makes me feel like we all have a chance.” I agreed.

I then encouraged him to watch the popular series “The Chosen,” explaining that it captured much of the New Testament while also portraying the apostles as flawed but holy men. I had to smile when he responded, “No, I don’t want to be too holy.” I assured him that he would enjoy the series, and he need not worry much about the holy business. Merely reading a few lives of the saints would dispel that fear. He proffered a weak promise of yes.

Too holy?! We can only hope!

While pondering that exchange later, I came to the conclusion that what he truly meant related to what we many of us struggle with on a continuous basis. We worry about what others will think if we speak enthusiastically for Jesus, have Catholic statues in our yard or defend our Catholic values when they are challenged. I am often guilty as charged and continue to fight that concern. Yet, Scripture calls us to be God’s disciples on a daily basis.

As a teacher, I appreciated the students who came prepared for class; paid attention during presentations; and followed the class rules. They concerned themselves less with adolescent whims like popularity, or being dubbed nerds or goodie-two-shoes. In their maturity, they were more focused on future goals than fickle cares that passed with age. Students of this caliber raised the bar in my classroom. Their quiet confidence and maturity inspired respect from other students and made my job much easier. We need to do the same for Christ.

It’s ironic. None of us would hesitate to be known as the most fit, the most successful or the wealthiest. However, when it comes to what is of eternal importance, being zealous missionaries for Christ, we hesitate to choose that road. Can you picture God checking his notes at the gates of heaven and saying, “Now, let’s see; what make of car did you drive? How many square feet was your house? Or, I hear you were the fastest marathoner in your age group.” Seriously?!

We are continually called to be future-focused disciples for God. That vocation requires living the Christian life.

In the end, I believe the only test we will need to pass is outlined by Jesus in Matthew 25: 35 -36: “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me: I was sick and you took care of me, in prison, and you visited.”

Yes; like Paul, we will all cross the finish line someday. We have received our instructions. The questions remain, Are we willing to following His guidelines? Are we competing well? Are we spreading our faith? Or, are we more concerned with our current status and others’ opinions? Bishop Robert Barron stated the choice clearly when he said, “If he [Jesus] is, in person, the supreme value, then we have to give our whole life to him. It’s as simple and as deeply challenging as that.”

Too holy?! I can’t speak for you, but I am quite sure I have a long way to go.