Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Holy is getting a rotten reputation.

What is holiness? For some inexplicable reason it has become associated with some archaic list of random rules that God (or some gray headed men in Rome) has whimmed up for us. Our lives are seen as some contrived, real time, 3D game that, if we follow the rules set out by the game master, perfecting our skills at maneuvering the playing field, we can enter the top level where you can list your names with the other winners of the game who gained the moniker “saint.”

How many times have you heard someone say after failing to be holy in a situation, “I’m only human”? That little trite excuse is a misnomer. In a sinful action you are not being “only human”. It is at that moment that a person is being in-human, falling short, or missing the mark. If the action in question was perfectly explainable by referring to the fact that some action is in alignment with what it is to be human, then it would not be sinful; it would be part of what being you is. That would make episodes of “Law and Order” mighty boring. They would have a guy they captured in court, his defense would be, “I was only being human,” and the judge would shrug his shoulders, slam down his gavel and say, “He’s right. He was acting as human beings are called to act. Gotta let him go. NEXT!” But the case is “I am only human” is an excuse, and a bad one at that, not an explanation.

Now, what can be said is, “I’m a fallen human.” That would at least be closer to the mark. Jesus, though he was divine, was also fully human. I do not think that anyone (well, anyone who reads this site) would make a case that Jesus, being fully human, performed actions we would call sinful. Why? Because he was a perfect man. It is when we do something noble, something good, something inspiring, it is when we sacrifice for love of others that we should say, “what do you expect? I’m only human.”

I will grant you that on the details many people will argue about that which is best for a human. I happen to buy the whole ball of wax handed down and preserved within Scripture and the Tradition of the Catholic Church. In it I see the path to what is best for the human race.But it is this call to finding out what is truly human, that which makes us healthiest as individuals and as a whole, bodily, mentally, and spiritually, making our relationships healthy between each other and our God that makes us most human, that grants us most freedom. That makes us holy.


Odysseus said...

-Jesus, though he was divine, was also fully human.-

Wow. I never looked at it that way. I mean, I knew he was fully human, but I didn't see it the way youo have posed it-I saw, rather, that he was without sin "in spite of" his humanity. You have turned that idea upside down.

Anonymous said...

Ooooooooo....never made that connection Rob. Nice! I'll be thinking about that one for a while.

Fr. V said...

Take it a step further - Think of Mary - Wm. Wadsworth said of her, "Our tainted nature's solitary boast."

Notice - our tainted nature - not what we are called to be. In being kept from sin she was not only "full of grace ' or closeness to God - she also became all that human beings are called to be. That is why she is our example.

A priest of the diocese once said, "If you spend your life trying to be a bannana and you're a grapefruit, the only thing you'll ever be is a second rate grapefruit. I think humanity has spent most of its time trying to a bannana and convining itself that it is happy.

The saints are what we are supposed to - not that they've overcome their humanity - they've overcome our fallen nature to become fully human.

God is so cool. If runs again, I'm voting for Him.

Anonymous said...

Fr V -
You trying to get us to think, or some such thing? What ever happened to "If it feels good, do it!"?
Actually, without too much cerebral activity, it seems to make sense. I was in the same camp as Rob's comment suggests. And like sparky, I'll be chewing awhile.

Adoro said...

You all should read Redemptor Hominis. (I'm sure Fr. V has...).

JP2 constantly quotes Gaudium et Spes 22, (I'm paraphrasing), The cross...fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear."

He goes into depth to explain how man arrives at an amazement at himself, having been created by God, and being able to understand what we are called to be and what the fulfillment of our humanity is, by virtue of the Divine/Human nature of Jesus Christ.

I was completely floored by this, too, sitting in class. Nearly fell out of my chair.

For us to say, "I'm only human", is To be human is incredible, not an excuse for anything. Our capabilities and ability to transcend our own will is completely amazing, and by just brushing off mistakes is in itself the biggest mistake; it's a denial of our ability to pick ourselves up and move on. We can't just say, "I'm only human". Yeah, then the only response to someone who says that is to ask them, "Then why aren't you more like Christ?"

(Ok, that would be snarky but you get my point....)

Great post Fr. V.!

Anonymous said...

Can't remember where it says so, but He was tempted in all things, yet fell in none. Methinks it likely was Paul who noted that.

And indeed, someone else said until we are fully human, we're nowhere near to the saints' caliber. One has to, or has to come to, choose Him in all matters.

I like what you said.. it's how I think of most folks -- when doing the kind thing is noted, one ought to reply, "What do you expect--I'm only human."


paramedicgirl said...

Great post, Father. That would make a good homily. I haven't heard a good homily in a long time.

Anonymous said...

parallel conversation re
The Devil Made Me Do It

go to blog Salve Regina

see posts for today june 20
both items
one on heretical answer from a priest
one on church architecture raping