As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct.

At any other time in the Church year, we might find this exhortation intimidating.   There’s no way I can be as holy as Jesus, certainly not in every single thing I do.   It’s just not humanly possible to get rid of all my selfishness or to love as perfectly as God loves.

True enough.   This is the humbling place we all occupy as a fallen race of sinners.   This is the starting point for each and every one of us, and we should keep it in the forefront of our minds.

However, ten days after the great feast of Pentecost, we can hear these words with different ears.   God has poured his Spirit into our hearts.   This is the Spirit who turned twelve timid people into eager evangelists willing to go wherever God sent them.   They even became willing to sacrifice their lives if God granted them the privilege of following in his Son’s steps!

This is the Spirit who took people who spoke different languages, came from different cultures, and lived in different degrees of wealth and poverty, and knit them into a close community, one in heart and mind, holding “everything in common”.

This is the Spirit whom we received when we were baptized—the same Spirit who still lives in us and is still eager to fill us with his grace and shape us into Christ’s image.

Holiness is not an impossible task, a distant vision that lies far beyond our reach.   No, it’s a gift freely given to us by a gracious and merciful God.   In fact, holiness is a Person, the Spirit of a committed Redeemer and Friend who has overcome all sin by his cross.   By the gift of Baptism, that holiness, that Person, now dwells in you.   Rather than an occasion for anxiety or fear, the call to holiness is a call to rejoice—and a call to embrace the One who can make you holy as he is holy.

word among us