Once upon a time, a priest walks along the corridor of the parochial school near the preschool. A group of little ones trot by on the way to the cafeteria. A little lad of about three or four stops and looks at him in his clerical clothes and asks, “Why do you dress funny?” He tells him that he is a priest and this is the uniform priests wear. Then the boy points to the priest’s collar tab and asks, “Do you have an “owie?” The priest is perplexed till he realizes that to him the collar tab looks like a band-aid. So the priest takes it out and hands it to the boy to show him. On the back of the tab are letters giving the name of the manufacturer. The little guy feels the letters, and the priest asks, “Do you know what those words say?” “Yes, I do,” said the lad who was not old enough to read. Peering intently at the letters he says “Kills ticks and fleas up to six months!”
Do the labels on our souls read, “Made Holy by the Spirit?”
St. Paul tells us that God calls him to be holy. Isaiah the prophet says that God calls him while in the womb to be holy. And St. John tells us that as Jesus comes up out of the water as God’s Son he is holy.
Some people translate holiness as a “saint.” Another person translates holiness as “worthy.” But what if we define holiness as “religious awe?” To be holy is to be in awe of Christ and the power of God. To be holy is to follow the promptings of the Spirit.
Thank God for the wisdom of the Second Vatican Council. “Holy-ness” is not reserved for priests and nuns, popes and bishops. The entire people of God, the whole Body of Christ—WE—are called to “Holy-ness.”
So, how do I demonstrate “holy-ness?”?
According to a medieval writer, imitate the example of the dove. Remember, St. John the Baptist recognizes Jesus when he comes up out of the water. Then the Spirit falls on Jesus like a dove.
— a dove live often near water under trees, to refresh itself and escape the hawk. “Holy-ness” is keeping close to the streams of God’s Word.
— a dove carefully chooses good grains of corn. “Holy-ness” is feeding and reading Church teaching.
— a dove’s song laments and mourns. “Holy-ness” is grieving over injustices.
— a dove feeds the young of other birds. “Holy-ness” seeks to feed others through loving service.
Every act of “holy-ness” is sacramental. The world needs more sacraments and more sacramental Christians. That is why when we get up every day and put on Christ, our labels need to read: “Made Holy by the Spirit.”
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A