Holiness in our helplessness
WE know that holiness is for everyone. That’s what God wants us to be, since we are his image and likeness, children of his. He wants us to be like him. “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Christ told us very clearly. (Mt 5,48)
But we many times think that to be holy and perfect, one should be spotlessly clean of any sin, defect and error. To be sure, to be holy has aspects of these qualities. We have to try our best that we be good all the time, productive and fruitful in our endeavors, active in the service of God, the Church and society.
But holiness should not be seen only in that light. Such understanding of holiness would make it an achievable goal only for a few. It becomes a concern only to the elite who happen to have qualities favorable to these aspects. It can only become the domain of the well-endowed, the strong-willed, and even the superheroes, if not the superhumans.
Holiness has another side. It can and should be achieved in the middle of our weaknesses, our stupidities and follies, our mistakes and sins, our helplessness, as long as we know how to relate them to God.
We cannot deny that in spite of our best efforts, which actually can be a very relative thing since what is best to one is only good to another, we many times find ourselves helpless in the face of our own weaknesses and the strong temptations around.
We cannot deny that in this world, no matter how brilliant and gifted we are, we act like little children who really would not know everything that affects him, much less, how to cope with the many mysteries in life.
Let us always remember that cry of St. Paul when he noticed two conflicting laws raging within himself, the law of the mind and the law of the flesh. (cfr. Rom 7,22-24) Many times, we find ourselves in this situation, and we do not know exactly what to do.
I would say that on these occasions, we just have to suffer our weaknesses, and everything else that are allied to them—our stupidities and follies, our helplessness, etc.—in the way Christ suffered in his passion and death. On that occasion too, Christ made himself helpless against all the malice of man, so he could teach us how to deal with our own helplessness.
We know that Christ made himself helpless to obey the will of his Father for our own salvation. He bore all our sins. This should be the mentality to have when we are reduced to our own state of helplessness.
We should not just suffer our own weaknesses, etc., alone. We should suffer them with Christ, and in that way we convert them into a real path to sanctity. In fact, we can say that the more we suffer, the more chances we have of identifying ourselves more
intimately with Christ, who achieved our redemption through his own suffering and death.
Let us always remember that when we suffer and die with Christ, we will also resurrect with him. (cfr. Rom 6,8) Suffering and death do not have the last word in our life. It is redemption, eternal life of bliss with God and with everybody else, that has the last word.
We need to give a full and more fair picture of how holiness can be achieved both in good and bad times. We should not focus on one without the other, because in that way we would be distorting the true nature of holiness and debasing the power of God. We need to be more open-minded about this issue and avoid stereotyping holiness in some concrete form.
Holiness can be achieved in many and even infinite ways. The only thing necessary is to relate everything to God.