Day 9 of Lent, Psalm 15:
Growing up in the Catholic Church, I would hear things and say things at mass that I did not always understand. For instance, we would say or sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” yet I didn’t give much thought to it. “Holy” was a word I used at church, but beyond that, I never gave it much attention. It was a mysterious word– a word I couldn’t understand and a word that was attributed to God. I also knew that I was not holy.
The other way I heard the word, “holy” used, was in reference to certain very good people. I heard others say, “Holy Father” (in reference to the priest), or someone might say, “She is holy,” (that she does lots of good things and has a peaceful disposition). So, it seemed like God was holy and some special people could work to be holy. I once again knew this was impossible for me. I was not holy.
A word of mystery
“Holy” still is a challenging word for me, which I am very slowly trying to understand. Holy is a mystery word; it is difficult to get our minds around, and yet it is attributed to God. (I guess that makes sense. I wouldn’t think we could get our finite minds around everything about God!) The best way I have heard “holy” defined is, “to be set apart.” God is set apart and totally different from everything else in creation. In addition, God is perfect, without any defect, and completely morally good. His holiness also evokes “awe” and wonder. In the bible, God’s holiness causes people to fall down and worship. These three words or phrases: set apart, perfect, and awe, help me to look at holiness a little more closely.
One thing that I love about holiness is this: it is attributed to the God I love and worship. It is true of Him– that He is always holy. He is not one minute vindictive, impure, or unworthy of worship. He is completely holy all of the time. He is completely and always set apart, perfect and worthy of worship. He is completely and always holy in all of His attributes. He is always faithful, always good, always just, always loving, etc.
The other thing, I have already mentioned (and easily admit), is that I am incomplete and not holy. I could give you a long list of all the ways, things, times and thoughts that would quickly demonstrate this. I think of it a little like my garage floor right now– covered and full of stuff that has been overflowing, filling my attic, garage, and closets. My “stuff,” demonstrates how I am not set-apart (but very normal and a mess!), not perfect (greedy, critical and selfish) and not worthy of “awe!” Yesterday, I do not think my husband was so in awe of me when I was impatient and snippy with him! I acted like he was in my way. I was being selfish with my time and space. This is one item in my large pile of “my messy garage sale” self.
As I read:
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. Psalm 15:1,2
I was reminded of my need for forgiveness for my “messy” stuff (my sin) and my need to grow in holiness (to become more like Christ). I am far from being “holy” in myself, but God says he can give us Christ’s holiness to cover our mess. The life of Christ given for us makes us clean. Only One who is Holy can make us holy. Hmmm… that is good news– very good news. I also was comforted to think that God is holy, yet so personal. He wants us to abide with Him. He wants us to be with us now and forever. This is also great news. Someone who is so holy loves someone like me, and wants me with Him.
God is holy. To be reminded of this puts me in awe.