February 19, 2018
by Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 224

Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 15
Matthew 25:31-46

Praying Lent

The First Week of Lent - 26 min. - Text Transcript

Beginning My Lenten Patterns
The Invitation of Lent
Choosing Lent, Acting Lent.

There are a few words in Scripture that have always been something of a mystery to me, such as “faith,” “glory,” “grace,” and “holy.”  Nothing I have seen, heard, or studied has really expressed any meaning for these words that really touched me, but I'm starting to get some glimpse of “holiness,” which appears in the opening of today's first reading. 

I suspect that the root meaning of holiness is nothing more than an absolute purity and simplicity, a transparency of identity and action, a totally focused presence --- “what you see is what you get.”  For God this is His very nature, but for us it is the goal of a lifetime quest which begins with that injunction in the first verse of today's reading from Leviticus: “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.”

Our achieving this is impossible for two reasons: the first is simply that holiness cannot come from us and our efforts.  Holiness can be ours only as a gift, completely unmerited; we can only ask for it and open ourselves to God's action, making straight the road for the Lord to come to us.  Our opening in that way is the work of a lifetime.

The second reason is that although we might advance somewhat in our humanity as a result of that opening, receiving God's gift and living with it, that is ever and always only to discover that from that new presence to God (and so to ourselves), from that new position of spiritual maturity, God invites us to grow even further.  We find, time after time, that we remain at the end of the open, generous hand of God, who always seeks to give us more life and a better one. 

What is this process by which we seek to live with the transparency, simplicity, and self-emptiness, the holiness which God calls us to?  It is silence, it is prayer, it is fasting and humility, poverty and generosity, and it is all the gifts of the Spirit. 

Holiness is God's affair, and our part is to ask for it and to prepare ourselves to receive that gift and to live it.

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