All of us are called to be holy
Growing up in Catholic school, we were urged to pray for vocations, which I took to mean – pray for more priests and nuns. It seemed they were the ones most especially called to sacrifice a normal married life in order to do something beautiful for God. And the rest of us ordinary laypeople had to figure out for ourselves what to do with our lives; what school to attend, who to marry, what job to seek. St. Paul strives to make it clear, in I Corinthians 6 that all Christians have a special vocation and the very first call we get is not so much to do something, but to be something. All of us are called to be holy, as holiness is not to be identified with any particular state in life. Whether we are students, full-time moms, nurses or priests…no matter our vocation, our daily activities provide plenty of opportunities for us to grow in faith, hope and love. Holiness is not being churchy or pietistic. Instead, holiness is all about the perfection of love.
Of course, there are many of us (priests and nuns included) who fail to achieve sainthood in this life. Obviously then, the activities entailed in these particular vocations are not enough, in themselves, to make people holy. Instead, we have to make a conscious decision, not just once, but each and every day, to surrender our wills and our lives to God. This means allowing Him, the “Potter”, to use our everyday activities to shape us as if we were clay in His skilled hands. The words of Samuel should echo through our minds… “Here I am Lord…You called me?…Speak for Your servant is listening.” I come to do Your will!
When we are baptized, we receive our vocation. Because from that moment on, our lives are no longer our own. As Saint Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me” (Galatians 2:19b-20). And, like Samuel (I Sam. 3), we are dedicated wholly to God, set apart to glorify Him in every aspect of our being… including our bodies. God’s Spirit takes up residence within us. And so we become God’s dwelling place… ‘Temples of the Holy Spirit’, and we acquire a new dignity.
And regarding our “Temples”, our bodies, St. Paul relates in today’s second reading, the Biblical insistence upon our maintaining sexual purity. “Brothers and Sisters, the body is not for immorality…glorify God in your body.” He reminds us that this flows from the simple fact that we must treat our bodies with the reverence due to God’s Temple (I Cor 6:13C-20). Clearly, we have no right to allow the ‘Temple of the Holy Spirit’ to be used as a means to a cheap thrill… or to any perversion for that matter. As stated above, we are all called to be something…to be holy. And to do so, we must avoid the immoral, mortal, deadly sins of the body that are being so widely presented in the media, by the entertainment industry, and even state and local governments…as “goods”. All sex-outside of marriage is immorality that is deadly sinful. And no matter how hard the media and entertainment industries try to spew their false venom…adultery, fornication, sodomy, and all same-sex activities, are immoral, abominable, and gravely sinful. Do not be deceived when you hear any opposition to these sins of the body, as being hate. We are justified to hate the sin; all sinful immoralities, yet always retaining the sinner in our love. This is where we can strive for that “perfection of love”, and to be “doers of the word”…as well as followers of the word…and be Something…and be Holy…glorifying God in our bodies.
So, if we are all called to holiness and a mission of preaching or spreading morality, what’s the need for priests and nuns? We must remember, that our Religious provide a powerful sign to the world that holiness has to be everyone’s #1 priority. And deacons, priests and bishops have a special calling to equip us all for our missionary task. Without the nourishment they provide us, through word and sacrament, we wouldn’t have the resources to grow in holiness or evangelize the world. So we do need to continue praying for those who have answered the call to ordination and religious life and pray for many more to answer this call.
Yours in Him,