To Be Holy...

November 11, 2018

Today, November 11th, is the actual feast day of our patron saint, Martin of Tours. I am sure that you are familiar with the story of Martin the soldier sharing half of his cloak with a beggar on a cold winter night. Jesus appeared to Martin that evening in a dream, wearing that same cloak. This revelation led Martin to his entry into Christianity and the Catholic Church.

There is a “golden legend” about St. Martin of Tours. Bishop Martin and his monks liked to fish at a river near the monastery. On one occasion, a snake was swimming in the river, headed towards the bank where the monks stood. Seeing this, Martin said, “In the name of the Lord, I order you to go back.” Immediately, the snake turned around and headed towards the opposite bank. While the monks marveled at this, St. Martin groaned, “Snakes listen to me, but men refuse to listen.”

This frustration is not only felt by St. Martin, but also by Jesus, the apostles, and all disciples who proclaim the Word of God to the world. Having discovered the joy and happiness in receiving the Word of God, they want to share the experience with others, yet many simply refuse to listen. Free will is God’s greatest gift to us, but at the same time it is the greatest obstacle to faith. Like love, faith must be freely given and received. Neither can be forced.

Faith draws us to God. He gives us His Divine Love, enabling our faith and love to grow and we become closer to God. As we receive more Divine Love (or grace), our ability to love ourselves and others increases, our ability to see as God sees increases, and our wisdom in His ways increases. Unfortunately, many of us are afraid to get closer to God. “To be holy” is not listed in our life plan.

It is natural to simply want to “be a good person” or “get into heaven.” However, when God made His covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, He said, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” (Ex 19:6) “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” (1 Peter 2:9) God did not call us to be Catholic. God called us to be holy. His calling is not just for a few but for the entire human race.

Because we are created in the image and likeness of God, it is only fitting that He calls us to holiness. It is intrinsic to who we are as children of God. It is our foundation in building God’s Kingdom.

St. Martin of Tours, our patron saint, pray for us. Open our minds and hearts to God’s word, His love and His grace.

Kathryn Richards