Holiness. What do you think of when you hear this term? I think of “the universal call to holiness,” a phrase attributed to the Second Vatican Council, whereby all people of God are called to strive for holiness in their lives.
Today’s readings call us to question our own holiness and the ways in which to strive for it. Moses is told to “Be holy, just as the Lord your God is holy.” In the Gospel, we hear the story of Matthew 25, where Jesus says, “Whatever you for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Through reflection and action, both readings encourage us to discern what we need to do to strive for holiness.
One of my responsibilities as a campus minister at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago is running our freshman retreat program. One of the themes of the retreat is, coincidentally, holiness. I talk about it in this way with my students: holiness is defined in many ways, so we should contemplate on what it means for ourselves. For some, holiness means a sense of piety or devotion towards someone or something. For others, it might mean a sense of love, kindness, concern for and with others, or radical hospitality. During the retreat, I engage in many ways with the students where they are able to reflect on our own holiness as well as how other people are holy for us. The students have taught me that holiness is indeed for ALL people, and it involves much more than the individual—it involves finding ways in which to break down the systems of injustice, like racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. that inhibit people from striving for holiness and being fully themselves.
The “universal call to holiness” is truly for all of us. My students have shown me how to strive for that. Moreover, Jesus wants us to strive for that, as well.
Striving for holiness is a journey. So—maybe during this season of Lent we can take some time to reflect on our own holiness journey and accompany others in their journey too.
Ed Nuñez graduated from Creighton University in 2018 with a BA in justice and society and theology. At Creighton, he was involved with residential life, campus ministry, and service & justice programs. Currently, Ed is doing a year of service with Amate House, working as a campus minister and support specialist at Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago. In the summer, Ed will be returning to Creighton as a Graduate Assistant in the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice while pursuing his MA in ministry.