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(Part 183)


June 21, 2016
Today’s psalm: Psalm 48:2-11

The Church cannot progress in the call to the New Evangelization unless certain things are in place. I cite just two very important and critical aspects of the call: (1) Holiness, and (2) Spiritual Warfare. Unfortunately these are two aspects that Catholics in general are unaware or unmindful of. Even many in CFC-FFL, though they hear all the time about these two things, often live as if they actually have no knowledge of these realities (maybe they actually do not). How can our Catholic Church, the body of Christ on earth, accomplish her purpose if her members do not truly know who they are and what they are called to be?

Today I will start two new From the Servant General topics: Holiness and Spiritual Warfare. I actually have written much about these two things. And the Bible, as I base most of my posts on the daily readings, has very much to say about these. Now I want to focus even more on these. We must grow in holiness, mindful of our engagement in spiritual warfare.

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Here is the call to holiness: “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Pt 1:15-16). God is holy, and we as His people, as His children, are to be holy as well.

What is holiness? It is to be another Christ. “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20a).
The Church is the body of Christ on earth. Our own bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. When we receive Holy Communion, Jesus becomes physically present in this temple in the form of bread and wine. How can we be anything but holy?

To be holy is to be “set apart.” It is to be radically different from the world. Unfortunately that is not the case with many so-called Christians and Catholics, and even CFC-FFL members and leaders. If top leaders, both in the Church and in community, are not, then the war is lost (or at least we will be constantly defeated in battles). Do we wonder why the enemy today expands his dominion so easily?

The ultimate manifestation of holiness is perfection. This is actually God’s call to us all. “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48). What? How can weak sinful flesh be perfect? Well, with God nothing is impossible. If He wills it, then it can happen. It can happen by the outpouring of His grace and the empowerment of His Spirit.

And so each day of our lives must be lived in holiness, so that we take even very tiny steps forward toward Christian perfection. God loves us so much that He wants nothing less for us. He is not content to lower the bar for His children. On a scale of 10, most of God’s people, who have turned away from active faith in Jesus, are at 0. Then you have various levels of lost sheep, at level 1 or 2. Then you have renewed individuals and those Catholics who even go to Mass every Sunday, who (don’t be surprised) are just at level 3. There is a very long way to go. Then you have those more dedicated to God and service in the Church, who are at level 4. Still falling short. What is sin? It is falling short of the mark. What is the mark? It is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom 3:22a). Thus, “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). We all have a long way to go.

Is it a quixotic quest? But we look to the saints throughout the life of the Church. We look to contemporary Catholics, like John Paul II and Mother Teresa, who are up there in holiness. At level 9. We know it can be done, by God’s power and mercy. Such holiness is not just for these exceptional people, but for all of us. We will never achieve perfection in this world, as we are not God. But every stain of sin will be burned away in Purgatory. Then we will enter into perfection in heaven.

* * *

How about the call to spiritual warfare? Here are 3 basic realities:

One, being engaged in spiritual warfare is inherent in the call to evangelization. To evangelize is to assault the dominion of the evil one, and to try to take back territory for the Kingdom of God. All the people of God, who are supposed to be disciples of Jesus, are to participate in this work. It is to share Christ to the world.

Two, if God’s people do not evangelize, go on mission (this does not mean necessarily going to a foreign land; it might just be to your closest neighbor), and focus on the one enemy, then they will turn on each other. This is why there is so much dissent, conflict, strife and division in the Church and parishes and communities.

Three, we face overwhelming odds. The forces of the enemy are very powerful, including secular-humanist governments and the worldly powers-that-be, including powerful blocs such as the United Nations and the European Union (more specifically, UN and EU bureaucrats). But our side is more powerful, because on our side is God. Jesus is our Commander-in-Chief. But we must trust in God and obey His commands.

* * *

Now let me go to today’s psalm. What realities do we see?

One, God is holy. “Great is the Lord and highly praised in the city of our God: His holy mountain, fairest of heights, the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon, the city of the great king.” (Ps 48:2-3). Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We walk with him, as we make our way to our heavenly home, the holy city, the New Jerusalem.

Two, God is the victorious King. “God is in its citadel, renowned as a stronghold. See! The kings assembled, together then advanced. When they looked they were astounded; terrified, they were put to flight!” (Ps 48:4-6).

We serve a holy God who is victorious over His enemies. WE ARE CALLED TO BE HOLY WARRIORS!

As holy warriors, let us, before going off into battle, prostrate ourselves before our God, and beg for His mercy, grace and strength. “We ponder, O God, your mercy within your temple.” (Ps 48:10). Pray at the start of every day. Then go off into the world to proclaim Christ and to serve your God, knowing the victory is already yours. “Like your name, O God, so is your praise to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is fully victorious.” (Ps 48:11).


* * *

Note: Please discuss the above in your next household meeting. Make a commitment to God and to each other (if you are willing and ready to do so), to strive for holiness and engage in evangelization. End with a prayer for empowerment.

In succeeding articles, if the readings for the day warrant it, I will write more about these two crucial topics. Be ready. Be open. Be humble. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

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