On Holiness

They are not intimidated by their own imperfections, but can see them as somehow amusing while still being able to weep over their sins, all the while knowing that Christ's love is bigger than their faults and that He is the One Who matters.

These people have emotions, get angry, laugh, weep, all straight from the heart while neither making a show of it, nor engaging in stoic repression. They have a refreshing absence of prudishness and they are fun to be with. They give witness that Christianity is not about grim asceticism, but about loving. Loving God Who first loved them, and drawing others into the cross-fire. They know that true asceticism, fasting, and prayer are a school for love, ­a means to an end, tools of the Spirit. Jesus speaks of this when He tells us to groom our hair, wash our face and not look gloomy when we fast, that our selflessness may be genuine.

Holy people give off great warmth, and you come away from them feeling that you are special to them, that you are their friend, after having felt delighted and embraced in their presence. Even great mystics are hard headed, feet-on-the-ground type people, because the mystical only exists to serve the practical. And loving is the most practical and hard-headed thing there is.

Holy people are free to love because they have confidence that they are loved by Jesus, that He is friend as well as Savior. They love not because they are free of interior clutter, woundedness and sin, but in spite of it, because great men are formed in the crucible of humiliation; and suffering is also a school for love along with prayer and sacrifice.

In those times I have encountered Jesus most deeply in His personality, this is what amazes me the most: how human He is. Fully God, yet fully man. We are called to be like Him in all his humor, warmth and passion, ­fully human. It is sin and pride that detract from our humanness, and therefore our holiness, but it is consoling to know we are not called to be something we are not, but something we already are: human. Our Lord said, “I come that you may have life and have it to the full.” An authentically full human life, realistically lived, includes suffering as well as joy. Gratefully received in Christ, they add up to holiness, and, ultimately, Glory.

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