This week I begin our reflection on the invitation to holiness not from this weekends readings but rather from the Gospel of Mark the eighth chapter that we heard during our weekday Mass Thursday. I was struck by the thirty third verse:
“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Jesus speaks these words to Saint Peter when he fails to understand Jesus’ purpose as Messiah, the Christ. That namely Jesus came that He might ultimately die for our redemption and salvation. Peter, like the Zealots had there own agenda and purpose for The Messiah and Jesus wasn’t speaking what they had in mind. , You see we like Peter often and usually misconceive and fail to see things as God does and intends. This is understandable since God is God and we are not. This week we are being called to see ourselves and understand ourselves differently, not as we do but as God does. This realization and acceptance of God’s calling profoundly impacts how we see others and regard them with the deepest honor and respect.
During Black History Month we recall our journey as a nation and the impact that persons of African descent have had on shaping and impacting our country and our world. We recall the whole story, the journey and the pitfalls as well as the triumphs. I believe we must begin with this invitation of faith that we hear today. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are called to be holy and to do justice in our walk with God and one another.
We find this week from the Book of Leviticus the call to be holy.
“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.” Luv 19:2
At first glance it might seem a bit odd that in the Book of Leviticus we would hear this calling or invitation by God. This book of the Pentateuch deals with liturgical law, namely rules and regulations as well as instructions for the priest to perform and laws on moral behavior in order to participate in the worshipping community. Knowing this it might seem strange. But in my own reflection it makes sense because the worship, the sacrifices are performed for the worship of God, for atonement for the transgressions of the people and thus to make God’s chosen people holy.
If we read a little further in the 17th and 18th verses the holiness that the people are being called too is made manifest by their actions and just and righteous relationship with others. Check this out, it’s going to blow your mind:
You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Lv 19:27-18
When we see this section of the Law, the people of Israel know that they not only have a profound relationship with the God who formed them and called them into a relationship with Him, but how they to must be holy and not bear hatred, to be holy and not incur sin by their mistreatment of another. No revenge, no disregard nor grudge toward another. Come on God should be blowing your mind right now. We are told to love one another!
The enslavement, the oppression, the degradation and subversion of another person goes against God’s law. A child of Abraham, our father in faith, aught to seek holiness through the righteousness required by God. Namely, we are called to love one another. True love of God and neighbor is a call to holiness and justice.
Walk with me church this being the case St. Paul will put it on us even heavier. Not only are we called to be holy, but look what he says:
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”
Bam! There it is. You are the Temple of God. What do we think of when we think of the temple. It is sacred, holy and it is the place where we encounter the Divine presence. The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the temple, therefore it is the place where God dwells here on earth. Bear with me. So if this is the dwelling place of God, it is sacred and holy unto the Lord how dare we destroy or defile it. War would end, shootings, crime and total disregard for human life would end. The daily Mass shootings, the mugging and attacks can end abruptly and immediately if believers would embrace who they are and are called to be in relationship with each human person they meet.
The problem is this “ You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
We need to change our thinking. The Christian’s thoughts are totally skewed. To disregard the dignity and validity of every single human person lies in this fundamental truth. See in the addict, the homeless, the poor, the immigrant, the drug dealer, the transgendered, the lost, the confused, the person who is different as a Temple of God! Whether you agree or not by the very fact they are created in God’s divine image God dwells there.
As church we have to stop judging, and condemning. Start seeing as God sees, at least be open to acknowledge that maybe we see the different in the wrong way. Acknowledge that my judgement is mistake. God knows the depths of a persons pain and struggle and seeking to punish people because of their struggle and pain is not the answer.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.”
Looking at God’s word maybe you’re suffering because you’re to busy judging and condemning others. Look at Psalm 103.
“The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion