“You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” These words from Leviticus are apart of an expanded detailing of the Law. The first thing to note is it is a command from God to be holy and not an advisory note that it might be nice if you were holy.
As we know the Law and Commandments are holy and good, given of God and stand until heaven and earth disappear (Mat 5:18). It is the job of the law to show something of what holy looks like and therefore is good for informing our conscience. Jesus though demands even more as he tells us that ‘unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, (those experts in the law), you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Matt 5:20) and then goes on to say, ‘be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matt 5:48)
If what we are doing is asking people to follow the rules only, good and holy as they are, then indeed we might be asking them and ourselves to do the impossible and placing a burden that is to heavy to bear. Almost certainly an external observance of the law without any interior transformation is doomed to fail and end in hell fire.
This interior life is essential as we seek to internalise the commands of God and conversion of our hearts. St Paul speaks beautifully of the nature of this interior life when he reveals that we are a temple where the Spirit of God dwells. (1 Cor 3:16f) we are the temple of God’s presence in the world, not in a symbolical way but in actuality. Joan of Arch states is so simply, “ About Jesus Christ and his Church, I simply know they’re just one thing and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
Therefore what we do with our bodies, as temples of the Spirit, matters. Any mortal or grave sin desecrates that temple and can only be restored through the sacrament of reconciliation.
This interior life, where ‘hearts speaks unto heart’, is about developing an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ and requires a disposition of our spirit that allows the gift and presence of God to not only dwell within but to do his work of making us holy. This is not about our own efforts, the holy sacrifice of the mass is not about what we do for God but what God has and is doing for us in Christ Jesus. It requires our co-operation with the Holy Spirit so that Christ, who is holy, might be made manifest within us. This co-operation is a desire for the things of God, a longing for the beautific vision that draws us into the dynamic life of the Trinity – where the perfection of self-giving love is found. How else are we to do as Jesus asks and love our enemies?
It indeed needs the grace and presence of Christ otherwise we might as well agree with those within the Church, the body of Christ, who wish to consign this teaching of Christ with other aspects of his teaching in the box mark ‘Impossible’. Lets face it which is more difficult chastity or loving our enemies?
There are those enemies within the Church who are more dangerous to the faith than those outside who positively oppose it. While pointing out the errors of our enemies within we are also compelled, if we ourselves are to be faithful to Jesus’ teaching to love and pray for them. In so doing we are revealing the way, the truth and the life – which is Jesus Christ himself, the holy One of God.