ALL ARE CALLED TO HOLINESS
Vatican II, concrete advice:
Holiness demands personal contact with Jesus in daily life, -Pope Benedict XVI, X-30-2010.
Church is made of sinners
Letter of Saint Paul to the Christians of Ephesus. Taking as examples family relations, the Apostle states that "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her" (5:25-26). Christ loved the Church giving himself wholly on the cross. And this means that the Church is Holy because she comes from God who is Holy, who is faithful to her and does not abandon her to the power of death and evil (cf. Matthew 16:18). She is Holy because Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God (cf. Mark 1:24), is indissolubly united to her (cf. Matthew 28:20); she is Holy because she is guided by the Holy Spirit who purifies, transforms and renews her. She is not Holy because of our merits, but because God renders her Holy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit and of his gifts. It is not we who make her holy. It is God in His love that makes her Holy.
You could say to me: but the Church is made up of sinners, we see it every day. And this is true: we are a Church of sinners; and we sinners are called to allow ourselves to be transformed, renewed, sanctified by God. There has been in history the temptation of some who affirmed: the Church is only the Church of the pure, of those who are totally coherent, and the others are estranged. This isn’t true. This is a heresy. No! The Church, which is Holy, does not reject sinners; on the contrary, she receives them, is open also to those who are most distant, she calls all to allow themselves to be enveloped by the mercy, the tenderness and the forgiveness of the Father, who offers all the possibility of encountering him, of walking towards sanctity. "But, Father, I am a sinner, I have grave sins, how can I feel part of the Church?" Dear brother, dear sister, it is precisely this that the Lord desires; that you say to him: "Lord, I am here, with my sins! Forgive me, help me to walk, transform my heart!" The God we encounter in the Church isn’t a merciless judge, but He is like the Father of the evangelical parable. You can be as the son who left home, who touched the depth of estrangement from God. When you have the strength to say: I want to go back home, you will find the door open. God comes to meet you because He always waits for you, he embraces you, He kisses you and celebrates. The Lord wants us part of a Church that is able to open her arms to welcome all, which is not the house of a few, but the house of all, where all can be renewed, transformed, sanctified by His love, the strongest and the weakest, the sinners, the indifferent, those who feel discouraged and lost. The Church offers all the possibility of following the way of sanctity, which is the way of the Christian. She makes us encounter Jesus Christ in the Sacraments, especially in Confession and in the Eucharist; she communicates to us the Word of God, she makes us live in charity, in the love of God towards all. So we ask ourselves: do we allow ourselves to be sanctified? Are we a Church that calls and welcomes sinners with open arms, that gives courage and hope or are we a Church that is shut in on herself? Are we a Church in which the love of God is lived, in which there is care for the other, in which we pray for one another?
A final question: what can I do, who feel weak, fragile, sinful? God says to you: do not be afraid of sanctity, do not be afraid to aim high, to allow yourself to be loved and purified by God, do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Let us allow ourselves to be infected by God’s holiness. Every Christian is called to sanctity (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 39-42); and sanctity does not consist first of all in doing extraordinary things, but in letting God act. It is the encounter of our weakness with the strength of His grace, it is to trust in His action that enables us to live in charity, to do everything with joy and humility, for the glory of God and in the service of our neighbor. There is a famous phrase of the French writer Leon Bloy, who in the last moments of his life said: "There is only one sadness in life, that of not being saints." Let us not lose hope in sanctity, let us all follow this way. Do we want to be saints? All? The Lord awaits all with open arms. Let us live our faith with joy, let us allow ourselves to be loved by the Lord … let us ask for this gift of God in prayer, for ourselves and for others.