Last month, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter entitled: Rejoice and be Glad. Such a letter literally means…’A word from the Pope’, the successor of St. Peter. In this writing, the Holy Father wishes to tell us that “holiness is not a dimension apart from the life we live every day but is precisely our very existence lived in cooperation with the grace of God, and by the action of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism.” In today’s Gospel-scripture Jesus is telling His disciples how to be holy in their daily lives. He tries to keep it simple and straight to the point:
1. Keep my commandments (Listen to the rules) 2. Love one another (Get along with each other) 3. Lay down your lives for each other (Make sacrifices) 4. Ask, in my name (Don’t be greedy)
These ‘instructions’ are not just a list of things that can be easily checked off when accomplished. Christian spirituality is lived among God’s people, celebrated in the church community, and visible in everyday world events. The source of holiness is the Lord-Jesus, Himself, and our goal is to transform our world into the Kingdom of God. The Pope writes that “every person who comes into this world needs to see the entirety of his or her life as a mission. When I ask myself: Why I was born? Why am I alive and what use is my life? What is my contribution to the growth of the world? I am asking myself about my mission.”
In asking ourselves these questions, we are not only to consider our community response but also our individual responses. The Holy Father addresses each of us by writing that: “you too, cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor (n.25). Christian holiness is not just for the saints, it’s not separate from our daily lives, and it is possible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to know that there is no Christian holiness where spirituality is disconnected from our day-to-day lives. Holiness, he points out, does not make you less human, since it’s an encounter between our weaknesses and the power of God’s grace (n.34). Jesus exhorts us, and now the Pope stresses the fact, that we disciples are not special, set apart from others in this matter, nor privilege, but like everyone else we are called to holiness. To be holy is to be fully alive and willing to share these blessings with others. Holy, yes! But not ‘superhuman’ or ‘perfect’…but trying to be simply, holy.