“I’m a good person.”
You hear that a lot. From people who attend church every week. From people who sometimes go to church or who were raised in a family that attended church, but no longer attend. Or people who believe in God or some nebulas spiritual force, but don’t believe in organized religion. From people that have moved going to church and being an active believer in Jesus Christ toward the bottom of their priority list.
“I’m a good person. I haven’t killed anyone. I’m a good parent. I help out when I can.”
Many people are right. They are good people. But is being “good” good enough to get into heaven?
After further contemplating last weeks Gospel, about the rich young man, I would say the answer is a big fat No. Think of what Jesus said… following the commandments is not enough.
The rich man followed the commandments. He was a good person. In the rich man’s world, he was not only faithful, but blessed. However, salvation was allusive for him because Jesus Christ was not the first thing in his life. It was not his number one priority. He would not leave everything he had to follow the Messiah.
Are we? Are we willing to leave everything behind to follow Jesus? Everything?
We are not called by Jesus to be a good person, we are called by him to be a holy person. We are called to sacrifice, to be rejected by this world, to be ridiculed, if necessary. Is that why Jesus stated that the road to heaven is so narrow? Because so few people will choose a holy life, a difficult life, a life in opposition to the world’s priorities?
It makes me wonder how much more I have to do to be considered holy. The short answer is a lot. I have to do a lot more to even come close to holiness. Do I have the strength? Do I have the will? Do I have the faith to live such a life? How does one live a holy life in today’s world?
Catholics revere saints similarly to the way football fans revere players in the Hall of Fame. Saints have lived a holy life. They didn’t set out to become saints. They merely converted their faith into a way of life, into action, into selflessness in such a way that it changed everything around them.
They give us examples of how to act, how to sacrifice, how to pray, how to be diligent, how to serve. They also show us that becoming more holy will undoubtedly lead to more struggle. Even saints have been rejected by their own spiritual leaders or religious orders because they were too holy, lived too pure of a life, a life the others around them were unwilling or unable to live.
Am I living a life so holy that it even makes my religious leaders uncomfortable? Am I even willing to live a holy life that makes me uncomfortable? I have such a long way to go. I must pray and grow in my faith and act accordingly.
I know for a fact that I am a good person.
And I know for a fact that it is not good enough.