You can be holy! “Who, me?” you might ask. “If you only knew the real me, then I doubt you’d say that.” It’s true that we are all sinners, and most of us have some sins and weaknesses that cling to us stubbornly.
But Scripture calls us “holy” nonetheless (Hebrews 3:1). How can this be? Put simply, Jesus shed his blood in order to make us holy (13:12). Think too about how St. Paul prayed for the Christians at Thessalonica: “May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He wouldn’t ask God to keep making them holy if he thought it was impossible! So you are holy, and at the same time, God is making you holy every day.
But it’s not just you. God desires a holy people. Most of the Bible passages about holiness are written to a people. God told the Israelites, “Be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 20:7). And St. Paul told the community in Ephesus that God “chose us in [Christ] . . . to be holy” (Ephesians 1:4). So the Lord wants you, me, and every brother and sister in our churches to encourage each other to walk in holiness. And he has given us his own Holy Spirit to make us holy temples where he can dwell.
Daily Choices Matter. Of course, we play a part in this call to holiness. Our daily choices matter. Holiness isn’t about “looking holy.” It’s about making decisions each day, the best we can, to please the Lord in our thoughts, in the words that flow from our mouths, and in the actions and decisions we make. What’s more, being holy doesn’t mean being sinless. It means cooperating with the Holy Spirit as we seek to obey God’s will and as we give of ourselves to the people around us. This is holiness.
It’s not just Scripture that calls us to be holy. From the very start, the Church has always urged us to journey along the path of holiness. Pope Francis tells us that “a Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness, for ‘this is the will of God, your sanctification’” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 19; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Pope Benedict XVI encouraged us, “We are all called to holiness: it is the very measure of Christian living” (General Audience, April 13, 2011). And Pope St. John Paul II exhorted us, “Do not be afraid to be holy! Have the courage and humility to present yourselves to the world determined to be holy, since full, true freedom is born from holiness” (Message to Youth, August 7, 1999).
This month, let’s believe that God truly is sanctifying us, making us holy, little by little, every day. Let’s believe that when he looks at us, he sees his Son, the Holy One of God, walking with us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to make us holy. And let’s make a decision each day to do the Lord’s will in the little things and the big things so that we can become holy as our God is holy!