(7th Ordinary Sunday: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48)
“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” This sentence occurs four times in the Book of Leviticus.
Observe the reason given for the command. It is not the promise of prosperity, which we might expect. No, the reason is even more important. Everything connected to God is holy. His will is sacred. We obey out of reverence.
There is a similar passage in Leviticus 22:32: “Do not profane my holy name, that in the midst of the Israelites I may be hallowed. I, the Lord, make you holy.” Our holiness is God’s doing. St. Paul echoes this thought when he writes, “The temple of God, which you are, is holy.”
The psalmist exclaims: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name.” Mary at La Salette wept at the profanity directed at her Son’s name. This was but one of the signs that her people had abandoned their identity as God’s temple. Instead of praying, they blasphemed; they made a mockery of religion.
The call to holiness is a tall order. It needs to permeate every aspect of our life. St. Paul expresses this as follows: “If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.”
Mary chose Mélanie and Maximin as her witnesses. The message of divine wisdom was entrusted to uneducated children, so that no one could miss the meaning of her words.
The wisdom of this world is contrary to the message of today's gospel in particular. Turning the other cheek is (and probably always has been) counter-cultural. It is hard even for committed Christians.
Fortunately, our holiness is not a matter of who is right or wrong, of winning or losing. It is first and foremost a question of sharing in the Lord’s holiness or, as Jesus puts it, being “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In our efforts to make the Beautiful Lady’s message known, we can advance toward that goal, and maybe transform some little part of our world along the way.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse