6th Sunday after Pentecost 20.7.14 Seeking perfection
The demand for holiness is absolute in our faith. In practice people tend to settle for a ‘near enough is good enough’ approach.
It is true God will forgive our sins and will reward our good efforts but we should not rest with that. We should strive to be as holy as possible.
Biblical passages, such as today’s epistle, remind us that we don’t do things by halves around here.
The call for holiness is absolute: we go into the water as the old self and come out the new self, a different person in spiritual terms, renewed, revitalised.
The same could be said for whenever we go to Confession, or Holy Communion. We are thinking each time of making a new start, walking in the perfection of Christ.
When we talk of perfection people start running for cover, looking for excuses, for reasons why they cannot be expected to be perfect.
It is all a matter of how we word things. If we hear that we must behave ourselves and keep all the commandments that can sound burdensome. But if we are offered freedom and happiness that sounds very appealing. And yet it comes to the same thing.
Would you rather be dead or alive? In prison or free? Hungry or well-fed? When it comes to absolute opposites like these it is easy for us to choose.
But when it comes to the spiritual life we are suddenly less clear. We like to have one foot in each camp. We want to follow the Lord but also we want to keep our worldly interests.
Because we do not commit fully to the new life we are offered we find ourselves compromised, and everything is much harder. One foot forward, the other foot backward. It is very uncomfortable to be like that.
But unless we commit we are not likely to see what the attraction of a holy life is, so we remain in the fog of indecision. Many people reject the Catholic faith but they are rejecting what they have never known.
The Church is so often presented as a stern law-making body that lacks a real understanding of humanity. We will find that this is not the case. In fact the Church is the centre of where divine meets human and great joy results.
For our part we look for the grace to make a decisive, once for all break with sin; to leave sin behind like we would leave behind a prison uniform.
Zero tolerance for sin! If we cannot do this in one day, or one week, we will never cease striving and working for this goal.
All this striving is so that we can become more fully alive. And further, so that we can discover the love of God for His own sake.
The Church speaks of ‘perfect contrition’. This is where we are sorry for our sin simply because we have offended Almighty God.
Imperfect contrition is when we are sorry for our sins more out of a fear of punishment than out of true love. (This is better than nothing but not ideal.)
The more we embrace God’s ways the more we get to love Him and the easier it becomes to obey Him. Love and obedience coalesce as one response. Simply out of gratitude and love we do our best to please Him.
There is more happiness in keeping the commands than in breaking them. We come to enjoy doing things God’s way as we discover the freedom available to us.
We take this Mass as one more chance to renew our commitment to walk in the new life Christ has won for us.