Becoming Holy Just as God is Holy
- Sunday, February 19, 2017
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
One of the things that I wrestle with is how do we as a church respond to the needs of the world? In other words how do we, St. Martin’s North Vancouver, respond to the issues and concerns that we are called to face in this day and age. We are located and live in an area where on the surface we are surrounded by abundance and resources. For the most part we can easily access resources and opportunities that can sustain and support us.
We all know of churches and communities where the “mission field” seems to be more obvious. If we were located on the Downtown Eastside for example, the work of the church is quite clear. So for us, it can be harder to identify where it is exactly that we are being called to serve. We have to dig below the surface to identify our work as a church.
The Book of Leviticus focuses mostly on our corporate encounter with God. Interestingly how this is talked about is through the human body and the “mess” that bodies can create. In many ways Leviticus brings to the surface everything we would rather not talk about in church or even with many others. Sores, sacrifice, blood and bodily fluids are enough to make any of us loose our appetites fairly quickly. Our bodies are talked about in this way not because bodies are “unclean” or impure, but rather, the “mess” that is associated with bodies can make the temple unclean and impure thereby preventing an encounter with God. God would not want to enter a temple that is unclean.
What we have read today forms part of the Holiness Code which is also an important aspect of this book. The focus now turns to land and how it is to be used. Relationships with each other and how we treat our neighbors is highlighted. We read about commandments that speak against stealing, defrauding and rendering unjust judgments to name a few.
What we learn is holiness and becoming holy is complex and dynamic. The authors of Leviticus remind us that in order to become holy it is more than saying the right prayers and following the right form of liturgy. Holiness is achieved by ethical behavior and the choices that are made each and every day. Holiness is a way of life.
So in order to achieve holiness we are encouraged to pay attention to those things in our lives as people and a church that draw us closer to God. As we are all too familiar with, when it comes to our physical bodies, things like a bleed, sores and wounds are easy to deal with. We can identify the problem and seek the help necessary to bring healing.
When it comes to matters of the heart and our intentions that is harder to identify and remedy. Beyond the social stigma that there might be something emotionally unbalanced with us holiness strikes at the very core of who we are as individuals and a church. Are we the kind of people who are content with saying the right prayers and ignoring or assuming that someone else will deal with the real issues at our doorstep? Or alternatively do we have the charisma and strength to see face to face the unpleasant sores of ourselves and society and respond accordingly? With the resources entrusted to us, do we save and hold onto everything “just in case?” Or do we acknowledge that we have resources and influence that others don’t and can use these to better the lives our neighbor which in turn, will better our lives as well?
This is what lies at the heart of today’s passage from Leviticus and what the Holiness Code calls us to do. Landowners and farmers are to use their land wisely to think of the poor and those in need. To that end they are encouraged neither to reap to the very edges of their fields nor to strip the vineyards bare. The gleanings, fallen grapes and edges are for the poor and those in need. This passage reminds us that while we do not have everything we want, we have more than enough for our needs with enough to share. Hear what the Spirit is saying to us, the Holy People of God.