According to the greatest source of theological and ecclesiastical wisdom in the history of the world, Wikipedia, the proper way to address the Bishop of Rome (aka the Pope), should you meet him, is “Your Holiness.” Some might argue that given the history of the pontificate, this title is, at best, ironic. Some might argue that. Heck, I might argue that, but then again, I’m not 100% sure that many of us who are ordained are worthy of the title “The Reverend” either. The truth of the matter is that many of the men who have held the highest office in Roman Catholicism have, in fact, been men worthy of the title “Your Holiness.” Of course, many millions of the women and men who have, over the past 2,000 years, sought to follow Jesus are also worthy of that title as well.
This week’s Track 2 Old Testament lesson gives us a portion of the Law of Moses from Leviticus 19. First on this list of Torah is “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Way to set the bar nice and low to start with, God. Thanks a lot.
That’s not easy. As I wrote about yesterday, loving God and neighbor is hard enough, but how am I supposed to be holy? I’ve got a beard, but there’s no way I’ll ever be like these guys.
My vocation means wearing funny clothes, but I’ll never live up to the standard of women like these:
Do we even know what the word holy means? I looked in up in my handy-dandy-now-woefully-outdated copy of Bibleworks and found that the Hebrew word translated as holy means, basically, “to be set apart.” Monks and nuns do this well, their lives are fully devoted to “being set apart,” but what about us normal, run of the mill, Christians? How do we become holy?
The key, I think, comes in the second half of the verse. “Be holy, for I, the LORD your God am holy.” In the life and ministry of Jesus, we have a glimpse of what it means like to live a life of holiness, a life set apart for God. As my friend and colleague, Evan Garner, noted last week, this isn’t about asking “What Would Jesus Do?” But rather, “What would make Jesus smile?” What is it about our lives that when God looks upon us, makes God glad? This, more than any other question, will help us steer away from our sinful and selfish desires, setting us apart from the prevailing narrative of this world, and aiming us toward holiness and the Kingdom of God.
So maybe this week, I’ll try to remember that according to Leviticus 19:2, my title should be “Your Holiness.” We’ll see if that makes this Kingdom living thing any easier.