The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you. Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you because you are the truth itself and you reveal to me more and more the meaning and purpose of my life. I trust in you because every day you are there waiting for me, knocking at my door, always ready to forgive, always ready to draw me close to you in prayer and the sacraments. I love you because you gave your entire self for me on the Cross and taught me what it means to fulfill myself in love. Amen.
Petition: Lord, help me to appreciate that holiness and humility go hand in hand.
1. Christ is the Image of our Holiness: We all live with this alter ego, this other “perfect” self, a self that exists in the realm of imagination. That self has been with us since we were kids: that star player on our school sports team, that rock star, that Hollywood teen idol that we all wanted to become. We easily fall prey to imagining our holy self also as that perfect, faultless individual — no weaknesses, no difficulties, immaculate. It is a self that we think we could become one day if we could just get rid of so many faults. A fantasy through and through! The pursuit of holiness is not the pursuit of some ideal, “perfect” self. No. Only God knows what our ultimate holiness will be like. Our goal is not the achievement of this imagined self, but rather of Christ. He is both source and summit of our holiness.
2. Holiness is Allowing God to Take the Driver’s Seat: It is not uncommon for us to discover in the autobiographies of saints their own recollections of a kind of spiritual clumsiness, of a profound sense of inadequacy in the face of God’s call. It is not unusual to find that a growing surrender to God left them with interior confusion, uncertainty and all manner of interior trials. In modern terms, we might say they didn’t seem to “have it together.” Don’t we, especially as beginners in the spiritual life, experience something like this at times? When we give ourselves to God and decide to take our call to holiness seriously, we can’t forget to allow God into the driver’s seat.
That means we have to let go. We have to give him control in our pursuit of holiness. Then, and only then, will that pursuit be genuine.
3. The Lowly Will be Exalted: Holiness does not mean freedom from faults, or the external attainment of some supposed semblance of virtue. On the contrary, as growth in holiness brings our soul more fully into the divine light, God enables us to see our soul more and more as he does. That means we discover more areas of sinfulness, and we see the root sins of our lives (pride and sensuality) in greater, albeit disturbing, clarity. No wonder so many saints frequented sacramental confession once a week, if not more often! While holiness certainly entails growth in virtue and consistency in remaining in the state of grace, it hardly means the absence of faults, failures and venial sins of all sorts. What is fundamental is not spotlessness, but a genuine giving of self to God and to his will. Perhaps this is why St. Augustine once explained that, in the pursuit of holiness, three virtues are fundamental: the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is … humility!
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you because you have made holiness a possibility for me! Thank you because you show me, one day at a time, how to grow in your friendship. Help me to take advantage even of my falls and to use them as opportunities to grow in humility. Let me never doubt you; let me never doubt my vocation to holiness. Amen.
Resolution: Today, whether I fall in a big or small thing, I will remember to admit my fault to God (with the intention of confessing any serious matter as soon as possible), get back up quickly and keep going.