Holiness Isn’t For Wimps

Have you ever set out on an endeavor thinking it would be easier to do than it actually was? I remember one time my husband and I decided to do a Superior Hiking Trail trip. We pretty quickly planned out what we thought would be a good introductory trip, since I had never been backpacking before. We picked our dates and set out.

First, we encountered traffic on the way up to Gooseberry (our starting point). Day one of our trip included hiking mostly at dusk, slowly losing light as we trudged on, thinking surely we must be close. We arrived at our campsite in the dark. The next day we had a full hike ahead of us—it felt so much longer in the thick of it than what we planned it out on paper, so much so that we stayed in what we thought was our campsite. . . only to discover the next morning the real campsite was another quarter mile down the trail. 

The final day included steep inclines, which paid off with a stunning view of Lake Superior. We made it back to Gooseberry looking much more disheveled than most of the people who had just taken a day trip to see the falls. When we got back to the car and started our drive home, I did a little more digging through the book we had used to plan the trip. With a bit more research, I discovered the loop we did is considered one of the most challenging and has some of the steepest inclines on the Superior Hiking trail!

Why do I tell you this story? Because if we would have taken some time to do a little more digging, we would have discovered and been more prepared, for the challenge that lay ahead of us. I think the same is true in our pursuit of holiness as well. I have a sticker in my office with a quote from Mother Angelica. It reads “Holiness is not for wimps.” I love it, because it reminds me that the path to holiness is hard, it’s full of challenges, and is an area in which we can always grow more.

Often I think people fall into the sin of pride and think “Oh this holiness thing isn’t too hard. I’m really a pretty good person already! I just need to be nice enough, pray a bit, and go to church.” I know I’ve fallen into this mindset before—and it keeps us in a place of mediocrity—not the great holiness to which God has called us. 

The readings this weekend remind me of the further research I did on that hiking trip. They highlight what a challenge holiness can be! “Be Holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy,” says the first reading. “So be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” says the Gospel. Oof. That’s not some lukewarm holiness God is calling us to.

The Gospel tells us to turn the other cheek, hand over both our tunics, walk an extra mile, love everyone—even our enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. Holiness is certainly not for wimps!

The good news is that God knows the challenge He is setting before us. He doesn’t hide it or mince words. He gives us the map—we just need to choose to follow it—to put aside the idea of just being “good enough” and striving for the ultimate goal of Heaven. It won’t be easy, but as our psalm reminds us “The Lord is kind and merciful.” When we fail in our pursuit of holiness, God is there to forgive, to pick us up, and help us to move forward. He’s rooting for us and walking with us every step of the way. 

Let us not be wimpy. Let us be holy.


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