NOTE: Following is an update on a previous post.
Does holiness provide refuge or bring condemnation? Gary Thomas in The Beautiful Fight says, “A holy man or woman is a spiritual force, a “God oasis,” in a world that needs spiritually strong people.”
The world needs holy men and women because it needs people transformed by God.
Isaiah 32:2 says, “Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” Thomas writes the following:
A holy man or woman is a spiritual force, a “God oasis,” in a world that needs spiritually strong people. When the winds of turmoil hit, such people become shelters; their faith provides a covering for all. By their words and actions, by the ways they listen and use their eyes to love instead of lust, to honor instead of hate, to build up instead of tear down, holy women and men are like streams of water in the desert, affirming what God values most. When the heat of temptation threatens to tear this world apart, godly men and women become like the shadow of a great rock. These God oases carry Christ to the hurting, to the ignorant, to those in need. They will be sought out–and they will have something to say. 48
Reflections on Mark 1:21-28.
How is it possible
that the religious saw Jesus teach with authority
but failed to see his holiness?
When the unclean spirit
and obeyed the Holy One of God?
Why did Jesus become famous
in the countryside
when the miracle happened in the synagogue?
Was he not as much of a threat
to the religious
as he was to the unclean spirit?
And if the Holy One of God is present today,
why do I not see him
and keep silent in my obedience?
Benedict J. Groeschel puts together an anthology of writings from past spiritual masters in his The Journey Toward God. Some of his remarks are helpful as I reflect on why I willfully choose to sin, on why I commit “high handed sins” (to use the words of Moses). I think I need to go back and reflect on the problems and solutions for pride in James 5 and 1 Peter 5. Humility seems to be one of the core requirements to have a growing intimacy with Christ.
Groeschel writes, “Therefore each time that we are humbled by falling into sin, it is certain that we must previously have exalted ourselves by some act of pride…”53 He also quotes Guardini, “Sin is blindness: and so I beseech you, my redeemer, rid me of the error of arrogance. Teach me to see who I am and who you are. Move my heart that it may feel what you have done.” (Monsignor Romano Guardini 9)
Groeschel later writes about the problem of willful sin, the nature of evil, and how a heart once hardened does not easily escape from sinful habits and patterns. He quotes St. Dorotheos of Gaza, “So it is with our evil desires; insofar as they are small to start with, we can, if we want to, cut them off with ease. If we neglect them as mere trifles they harden, and the more they harden, the more labor is needed to get rid of them. But if they grow to any degree of maturity inside us, we shall no longer be able to remove them from ourselves no matter how we labor unless we have the help of the saints interceding for us with God.” 59
Sounds like James 1:13-15 and 4:1-3! Lord, you have allowed me to see the evil that results from my independence, my self-will, my pride. Deliver me this day as I submit to you.
I don’t know if St. Dorotheos is referring to the saints who help those who are trapped in sin ala Galatians 6 or to the the canonized saints of the church. If the latter, then I would need to beg to differ! Regarding the former, I am very much aware of how much I need the grace that community offers in my pursuit of holiness.