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(Part 10)


March 6, 2017

Today’s readings:
Leviticus 19:1-18
Psalm 19:8-15
Matthew 25:31-46

As God’s people, we are called to holiness. “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Lv 19:2b). To be holy is to be set apart. To become holy we must follow God’s ways and obey His commands. The most basic command of God is to love Him and to love our neighbor.

If we love God, we will “keep (His) sabbaths” (Lv 19:3b) and “not turn aside to idols” (Lv 19:4a). He is the only God, and we give Him the praise and worship that is His due. And if we are to be holy, we must avoid sin, which is an offense against God. We should “be blameless, innocent of grave sin.” (Ps 19:14b). Mortal sin cuts us off from God. But we must strive to avoid all sin. We even pray, “Cleanse me from my inadvertent sins.” (Ps 19:13b).

Holiness, aside from our relationship to God, has to do with our relationship to our neighbor. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lv 19:18b). This means we do not sin against our neighbor. This entails a number of things, for example:

  • “You shall not steal.” (Lv 19:11a)
  • “You shall not deceive or speak falsely to one another.” (Lv 19:11b).
  • “You shall not exploit your neighbor.” (Lv 19:13a).
  • “You shall not commit robbery.” (Lv 19:13b).
  • “You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.” (Lv 19:15a).
  • “You shall not go about spreading slander among your people” (Lv 19:16a).
  • “You shall not hate any of your kindred in your heart.” (Lv 19:17a).
  • “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people.” (Lv 19:18a).

You can see from the above that many Christians fail in loving their neighbor. This is true in parishes, in Church organizations, in Christian communities. Those who do such things are failing in holiness.

Now this love for neighbor is especially for the poor and oppressed. It is about social justice, being God’s instrument in providing for those who have less in life. This comes about in a number of ways, for example:

  • Leaving “gleanings of your harvest .... for the poor and the alien.” (Lv 19:9-10).
  • Being just to workers, and “not withhold overnight the wages of your laborer.” (Lv 19:13c).
  • Not looking down on the afflicted. “You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind” (Lv 19:14a).

It is not just right and holy to do good for the poor, but it has to do with our eternal destiny. Jesus spoke about the judgment of the nations at the end of time. He will separate the sheep from the goats (Mt 25:32-33). Those who will go to heaven are those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, cared for the ill and visited the prisoner (Mt 25:34-36). Those who will go to hell are those who did not do good to the poor (Mt 25:41-43). Loving the poor is actually loving God. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40).

Now all of what we have seen is very difficult, and even contrary to the ways and wisdom of man and the world. If we are to be holy, we must put on the mind and heart of God. We must seek the transformation of our ways of thinking, speaking and acting. “Let the words of my mouth be acceptable, the thoughts of my heart before you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Ps 19:15). How can that happen?

We must read, study and meditate on God’s word in the Bible. God’s instructions about His ways are in this holy book. His laws are perfect, trustworthy, right, clear, pure, true and just (Ps 19:8-10). His word refreshes the soul, gives wisdom to the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eye (Ps 19:8-9). His word endures forever (Ps 19:10b). “By them your servant is warned; obeying them brings much reward.” (Ps 19:12). By the word of God in the Bible, one is enabled and empowered to grow in holiness.

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