By Deacon Greg Evers, C.PP.S.
“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.” What does it mean to be holy like God? There are certainly a number of ways in which one can live out this call. On a fundamental level, this is what we are called to do as baptized Christian people. We look to the life and mission of Jesus for direction and inspiration on how we might respond to this call to holiness.
When I hear these readings for this Sunday, my mind goes people who suffer the effects of trauma in their lives. As I write this reflection, Turkey and Syria just experienced a terrible earthquake in which at more than 35,000 people are believed to have died. Sadly, that number is likely to climb higher as the days go by and rescue teams find more people buried in the rubble.
While trauma caused by natural disasters are largely out of our control, there are other sources of trauma that are caused by human hands. The scourge of gun violence continues to plague our society at an alarming rate. We know these effects don’t stay contained in just the local community, nor even with the particular generation that experiences such events. Trauma gets passed on from one generation to the next. This in turn can spark cycles of violence as people seek out retribution and vengeance for what was taken. Like trauma, these cycles of violence are not self-contained but have far-reaching consequences that we have not fully grasped yet.
What does holiness look like amid a world that is seemingly spiraling out of control and falling apart at the seams? Perhaps holiness looks like a mother comforting another mother who has lost a loved one to gun violence or incarceration. Perhaps holiness looks like a community gathering to mourn the loss of life and a way of living suddenly taken by natural disasters. Perhaps holiness looks like protesting in the streets.
Our Scriptures tell us that Jesus worked wonders amid those who suffered terrible misfortune. Whose lot in life was desolate with less than a glimmer of hope. In the face of such tragedies, it can be hard to find the face of Jesus. Let us look for those who are working to help and to heal. It is there that we will find the face of Jesus. As people baptized in Christ, may we imitate his example and strive towards peace, healing and reconciliation.
Deacon Greg Evers, C.PP.S., is in ministry at St. James the Less Church in Columbus.