Toward Holiness

This is the theme of every human being. Human beings are always under move, In fact not just human being but everything under the sun is on the move. Scientists say that not only the macrocosm but also the microcosm like atoms and electrons are under continuous movement. Anything that moves has a goal. When you pick up a stone and throw, where do you throw?  The moment the stone is released from your hand it moves either upwards or downwards and hits a wall or a tree or something in front. Observe the cricket players they hit the ball in some direction. The moment we release something from our hand it moves in a direction towards something and that something is called the finality. The same holds true for the universe, the entire universe is on the move. It has a tremendous movement towards some finality, weather it is perceived or not every movement has finality.

Let us now look at the humanity, whether they are Christians or Hindus or Muslims and even the unbelieving social communities or atheists or Marxists everyone has a movement. A movement does not go directionless. Even when you say that there is no direction there is a direction, it has to end somewhere. Think about yourself, think about a person who is running or moving or thinking. Even as you think just now what are you thinking? Or what are you speaking or what are you listening to? Your listening is an activity is a movement. Your thinking is an activity is a movement. Your running is an activity is a movement. Including your sleep is an activity which has finality. You don’t sleep without a purpose. You don’t run without a purpose.

Even a person who tries to commit suicide has a purpose. To commit suicide is an activity, it has a purpose. He/she wants find happiness in suicide. He/she wants to get away from the sadness of this world and reach happiness. Every activity and every moment weather we intend or not has a goal and has a purpose. What is that finality towards which human beings must move? That is what we are talking about toward holiness. Holiness is the finality of humanity.

Where is that holiness? We as Christians say God is the ultimate finality of everything that moves.  When we talk about humanity, we as individuals, as well as a group or as a community or as a family are moving towards a finality which is Holiness. Finality or the holiness is the perfection we search for. Suppose today you are sending your child for studies, what is that you want?  The child needs to study to perfect himself.

Let‘s take the example of a new born child. With time the child grows and becomes one year old then two years old, three years old and so on. Then one day the child beings to go to school. At every stage the child is progressing itself towards perfection. When does that perfection come? Will it come to an end? Where will it end?

Ultimately every human person we look at is not totally holy and totally perfect. We find everyone moving toward ultimate holiness. We are moving towards because we are still not perfect. Only imperfect beings move towards holiness. But this holiness is the character of the ultimate perfect being that we call God. God alone is the totally perfect totally holy and complete in fullness.

This is what we find in the beautiful vision of the famous prophet Isaiah. Please read chapter six of prophet Isaiah particularly the first three verses. The prophet had a mysterious vision and the vision was something of a heavenly being God Himself. God Yahweh was seated on the throne of his glory and around him were angels, also known as seraphim. The seraphim had three pairs of wings, with one pair of wings each seraphim covered their feet, with another pair of wings they covered their eyes and with other pair of wings the seraphim was in flying posture. As if ready to fly, ready to do anything at anytime, at any moment on God’s command. One angel was speaking to another a secret. The secret is described in this way “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. “ Isaiah (6:3).

Yes, that is a great revelation and mysterious apparition of GOD and His character and name. The angels called Him holy. “Holy, holy, holy is God and everything the heavens and earth are full of his glory.” The fullness and His holiness is something that makes Himself different from everything else. God alone is holy, God alone is fullness because everything else is moving towards something. If you are thinking now what are you thinking? You are thinking about something other than thinking.. If you are running then you are taking one step forward or backward and moving away from the place where you were before.

If the child is one year old today, next year it will be two years old. It will never be one year old again it will be moving upwards. Towards something more and more, the more and more reaches the ultimate perfection the ultimate holiness that’s God.

God alone is holy, weather you are Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim or an atheist or a communist. You are bound to move towards and the ultimate towards ends with God the most perfect being is full of holiness. God has revealed this mystery through Jesus Christ to us humans. Therefore our lord beautifully speaks to his disciples in Matthew (5:48) “So be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

So perfection or holiness is something very specific to God. In the Old Testament and during the ancient days people talked about God as something mysteriously different from the entire creation. All the creations of this world are imperfect and they are all moving towards God and God is different from all these creature’s created things. Therefore when we talked about being holy, you can only think of God who is different from us. But our Lord’s own intention and desire is that we imitate him. Imitate him because God is not attached to this world and that’s why he is different. To be holy like God implies that you depend upon God and not upon this earth or the worldly things. Moving toward holiness implies acceptance of God’s plan in our lives. His call or invitation to the entire humanity is to keep moving away from the passions of this earth. Don’t get attached; don’t get bogged down into this world. That’s why our Lord Jesus expressed this in a different way. “No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God as well as mammon (namely the desires of this world).Either you will be with God or with this earth but not with both.”

When you get away from the desires of this world (the mammon) you will move towards holiness that’s God. But if you don’t move towards God you will be stuck in this world and you will be just here. You will become a slave to this world. That is why today we are again and again insisting upon toward holiness, it is an invitation for every human being who wants to come a little more and more close to God.

Jesus our lord came down to this earth to teach us how to be holy or how to move towards holiness. Jesus is our model. When Jesus came down to this earth we see that He came with a clear vision and clear decision. He said “I want to do the will of God my Father come what may.” He did not get attached to this world.

We read in the gospels about the temptations of Jesus. It is a lesson how Jesus defeats the call of this world, the call of the Satan. When Jesus was hungry after forty days and forty nights of fasting the evil one came close to him and tried to distract him from fulfilling the will of His Father. The evil one brought some stones and asked Him to change them to bread. Our Lord answered him saying “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.”  That answer means man’s life and perfection is not just dependence on food but moving towards God, moving towards the word of God, moving towards the will of God. Don’t get stuck with this world and its own business, you will be left behind.

On the contrary Moving towards God; giving up this world will get us attached to God the perfection. Similarly other two temptations got similar answers. Satan tempted Him to get attached to wealth. He said “I will give you all the wealth of this earth.”  Jesus did not want to stop with this earth his goal was to fulfill the will of His Father and to be with the Father.  Similarly today Jesus is calling every one of us to move towards God. Moving towards God is the movement towards holiness towards everyone’s perfection may every one of us today feel moving upward towards our finality and goal.

Rev. Fr. V. Ignatius. S.J.