A Call to Holiness

by the late Cardinal Basil Hume



Basil HumeMost people would like to be thought of as good but would be embarrassed at being called holy. That suggests that there is something amiss with our notion of holiness It should be central to our Christian conviction about ourselves and the world God continues to create. In biblical terms we are called to be holy. Indeed the reason for our recurring unhappiness is that we so often fail to be holy and thereby frustrate God's loving designs on our regard. Holiness is for everyone and needs to be universally understood and desired.

There can be no holiness without fundamental conversion. It involves a decisive turning away from all that separates us from God, in a word, from sin, and a turning towards God, to listen to Him attentively and to obey Him faithfully. This is the change of heart, the metanoia for which our Lord called. It is not a single, once for all, decision but a state of mind and a commitment of life that is constantly affirmed and renewed. It becomes, with God's abiding help, the way we think and act. Daily we die to ourselves and live to God and live in God.

The call to this new way of life is not confined to a select few. It is made to anyone who would follow Christ. It invites each of us to rise above the mediocre and the lukewarm to the very heights. As Christ said: "You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect ... " (Matthew 5:48).

When Jesus Christ called his hearers to repentance he urged them to believe in the Gospel. That would set out for them a whole new way of life. At the heart of the Gospel is the twofold commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself:" (Luke 10:27). To live this love leads to true holiness. In fact holiness is well defined as living in a radical way the commandment to love God and my neighbour. It gives unity and purpose to every life.


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