BE HOLY AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS HOLY – by Fr Benjamin Mba, HFFBY
Of course, yes! Jesus’ call to holiness is not a particular call but a universal clarion call for all children of God. In this regard holiness of life ipso facto consists, first in being at peace with oneself, with all people on earth and then with God. This actually is difficult, quite impossible without the cultivation of the good habit of simplicity and the acquisition of the Spirit of forgiveness. No wonder the watchword of Jesus, His life principle was love. In fact the summary of the life of Jesus was epitomized on the event of the calvary which is a practical evidence of love. It is a consummation of love. Why? Because love is the only motive force, the only power and medicine that can bring healing and remedy to the broken and distorted world, to the wounded humanity; and consolation to the afflicted and mostly, to our betrayed and disappointed God.
Although not efficient, not so perfect as in the New law, the Old law was not lacking totally in the application of love in their law. Even in their “Lex Talionis”, tit for tat, eye for an eye – the law of vindictiveness, the law of revenge was love totally missing. This is because one can only retaliate to the extent, the exact measure to which one was injured or afflicted. But because it is difficult to quantify injury, difficult to determine or measure offense, people ordinarily refrain from the application of Lex talionis – eye for an eye regardless of being rooted in the law, lest by revenge one incur bigger offense. Nevertheless, Jesus wants his people to be perfect like him and prescribed a new mode of life, a new way for easy and perfect coexistence by his abrogation of the culture of retaliation and establishment of love and forgiveness.
JESUS, THE PARADIGM OF LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND HOLINESS.
Jesus distinctly said that we should be perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect. He and the father are one. Therefore, Jesus invariably sets himself as an example, and the standard of holiness and perfection ; and not the law nor any other creature. Jesus is all merciful, all loving, he is compassion and love. He is forgiving. He is Holy. In fact Jesus is the source of Holiness and He is Holiness personified.
Accordingly, we Christians, his followers ought to strive unweaveringly to imitate our master and example in all ramifications of life. Obviously, it seems practically impossible for us human being to be like God in this mundane world. But in actuality what is expected of us weak and wobbling human beings is to keep on struggling, making efforts daily to go as far as we can in our observance and maintenance of the code and principles of our Christian life, each according to his or her state of life. But first of all, how convinced are we that we can put up formidable effort in our struggles for Holiness? How determined are we to keep on swimming against the current and tides of nature and life to maintain our religious and social-cultural status in accordance with the injunctions and examples of Jesus Christ, our model? Being free to make our choices of life, are we willing and ready for Christ, or are we saturated with our own inclinations?
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES AND PRAY FOR THEM
Jesus, constructively by implication abrogated all forms of permissible retaliations, and even added decorously “love and pray for your enemies” . This is not an option, not a choice but an order a command of God himself. As our model, Jesus was insulted, but he never retaliated. He was privately and publicly lied against, he never altered a word, he didn’t defend himself nor reacted angrily. He was falsely accused and arrested, but he never resisted. He was spitted on, derogated and cruelly bastardized, He welcomed them; cheerfully and courageously he accepted everything as his fate, as his lots. He was in-humanly tortured and ignominiously executed, but he neither complained nor cursed anybody. Rather, Jesus loved them all and forgave everybody. He said, father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.
Why then are we so hesitant in forgiving one another? As followers of Christ, do we have any reason not to love our enemies, forgive them and pray for them? Need we fight our own course by ourselves? Let us not forget that all retaliations should be left for God who alone is just and Justice per excellence. If we fight our own battle by and for ourselves, what then is left for God? Taken our own fight by ourselves, God has nothing left to battle with. Surely we are going to land-crash shamefully. But God is always triumphant, always victorious in battle. Are we still waging our own course of revenge while God is standing beside us? He is ready to take it up if only we can give way for him to come in our war front.
REASON WHY WE SHOULD LOVE AND FORGIVE
Loving and forgiving our enemies do not only keep us in good health condition but also enriches us all round.
Hatred and anger/revenge(opposite of love and forgiveness ), psychologically/psychosomatically cause us depression High BP, brain fag. Pathologically, it causes heart attack and Ulcer. Physiologically, it induces old age, fatigue and uselessness. Etc why are these serious and injurious? They are renewed /reawaken every moment because of our closeness to the source of the cause(s).
It is pragmatically very easy to love our distance acquaintances because they are far and have little or no dealing with us. He or she has seldom avenue to offend us. But it is our neighbours, those who live close to us, those who work closely with us and do business with us that are prone to offending us and become our enemies. Husband and wife, parents and children, children, colleagues, associates, Masters and apprentices etc should learn how to understand, tolerate and love one another and bear one another’s weaknesses. Apparently, it is quite difficult to understand and bear with people but love bridges and ameliorates many short comings of bad partners. This uncompromisingly enhances the quality of life, it enriches the values of inter personal relationships which makes significantly Christian life and worship so authentic and perfect. This is because, in this, faith, hope and charity, the hinges of our Christianity are embedded and sifted from and makes living them out possible and easy for our sanctification and salvation.
May the good Lord give us the grace to continue to strive for perfection like Christ, our model, in Holiness, love and forgiveness of our enemies and praying for their conversions , through Christ our Lord.