In today’s readings, God says to Moses, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” And Jesus reprises, “Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” So what does it mean to be holy?

Growing up in East Texas, I was exposed to the “holiness” tradition. These were mostly Pentecostals who sought to achieve holiness by what they didn’t do. They didn’t drink, smoke, cuss or speak to anyone who did, except to tell them they were going to hell. Women never wore pants or makeup and seldom cut their hair. While avoiding such extremes, most of us perceive holiness in various externals of speech, dress, or political correctness. There are Anglicans who devoutly believe Elizabethan English is more holy than modern English and Catholics who see holiness in women wearing chapel veils and men kneeling erectly, rather than resting on the pew. During the Jesus Movement in the sixties we perceived holiness in how worn and faded the jeans were we wore to church, differentiating ourselves from the hypocrites in the suits.

At its core, holiness has nothing to do with external acts or appearance, but the inner presence of the Spirit of God. God said to Moses at the burning bush, “Take off your shoes, for the ground you are standing on is holy ground.” Was the dirt Moses standing on externally different from any other dirt? No, it’s all the same dirt. God’s presence made it holy. The bread and wine we receive at Eucharist is externally still bread and wine, but God’s presence makes it the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Our external body was formed from the earth. No matter how we clean and polish it, we are still just walking, talking mud people. But the spark of God’s Spirit lies within each of us. St. Paul refers to us as clay pots, but pots that contain heavenly treasure. If we just relax and let it out, God’ s light will shine. To embrace holiness we must walk in the words of John the Baptist, “Christ must increase; we must decrease.”

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A New Wave Is Coming

I was at Eucharistic Adoration this afternoon and sensed this reflection.

“There is a new wave of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming. When it breaks on the shore there will be a great division between those who are committed to following Jesus and those who are just going through the motions. Religiosity is the enemy of faith. Many live in religiosity, but few live by faith. The people of God need to speak the truth boldly. They must know the truth and not be afraid. Unafraid to offend. Unafraid to upset the status quo. Unafraid to suffer. The status quo is driving millions away from the Church. The people of God must know the truth and not be afraid.”

With so many voices in the Church, I fear many are confused by the Truth. Jesus is the Truth. Know Jesus. Know the Truth.

I wasn’t going to blog my reflection as I like to let these thing settle for awhile before sharing them. However, when I got home I read the following reflection by Pope Francis. He is speaking in the same vein, so I decided to share it.

Pope Francis: You can’t dialogue with the devil!

Satan is a specialist in deception, and a cheat who “doesn’t pay well.”

Diane Montagna, Aleteia.org. © Copyright 2017 Aleteia SAS all rights reserved.

VATICAN CITY — Prayer and humble reliance the Lord is the strongest weapon against temptation, Pope Francis said this morning, adding that when it comes to spiritual warfare, you can’t dialogue with the devil.

Addressing clergy and faithful in his homily at morning Mass, in the chapel of his residence at Santa Marta, the pope called the devil a specialist in deception, who “promises you everything and leaves you naked.”

In the weakness of temptation which we all experience, he said, the key is not to “hide ourselves” from the Lord, but to seek his grace when we are tested, and to seek his forgiveness should we fall.

The devil uses dialogue to deceive

Temptations lead us to hide ourselves from the Lord, so that we remain with our “fault,” our “sin,” our “corruption.” Commenting on the first Reading from the Book of Genesis, Pope Francis focused on the temptation of Adam and Eve, and then considered that of Jesus in the desert.

In the Genesis account, the devil appears in the form of a serpent: he is “attractive,” and with his cunning he seeks “to deceive.” In this he is a specialist, he is “the father of lies,” “a liar.” So he knows how to deceive and how to “cheat” people. This is what he did with Eve: he made her “feel good,” the Pope explained, and so he began to dialogue with her; and, step by step, Satan led her where he wanted.

With Jesus it is different; it ended badly for the devil, the Pope said. “He tries to dialogue” with Christ, because when the devil deceives a person he does so with dialogue.” He attempts to deceive Him, but Jesus does not give in. Then the devil is revealed for who he is. Jesus answers him, not with His own words, but with the Word of God, because “you can’t dialogue with the devil”; you’ll end up, like Adam and Eve, “naked”:

“The devil is a bad paymaster, he doesn’t pay well. He is a cheat! He promises you everything and leaves you naked. Jesus, too, ended up naked, but on the Cross, through obedience to the Father: this is a different path. The serpent, the devil is cunning: you can’t dialogue with the devil. We all know what temptations are, we all know, because we all have them. So many temptations! Of vanity, pride, greed, avarice… so many!”

Corruption begins in small things

Today, the Pope said, there is a lot of talk of corruption; and for this, too, we should ask for the Lord’s help:

“There are so many corrupt people, corrupt ‘big fish’ in the world, whose lives we read about in the papers. Perhaps they began with a small thing, I don’t know, maybe not adjusting the scales well. What was a kilo… no, let’s make it 900 grams, but that will seem like a kilo. Corruption begins in small things like this, with dialogue: ‘No, it’s not true that this fruit will harm you. Eat it, it’s good! It’s a little thing, no one will notice. Do it! Do it!’ And little by little, little by little, you fall into sin, you fall into corruption.”

If you want to be a winner, never hide from the Lord

The Church teaches this, the Pope said, so that we will not be deceived – not to say foolish – so that when we are tempted we have our “eyes open” and know to ask the Lord for help, “because we can’t do it on our own.” Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord; on the contrary, it takes the grace of Jesus in order to “turn and seek forgiveness”:

“In temptation, you don’t dialogue, you pray: ‘Help me, Lord, I am weak. I don’t want to hide from you.’ This is courage, this is winning. When you start to dialogue, you end up overcome, defeated. May the Lord give us that grace, and accompany us in this courage. And if we are deceived because of our weakness in temptation, may He grant us the courage to get up and go forward. It’s for this that Jesus came, for this.”