“holding fast to the very person of Jesus”

In Catholicism, the traditional short ‘definition’ of holiness is “the perfection of charity.” (see CCC, n. 2013)

Here are some thoughts from Pope John Paul II on the interplay among perfection, freedom and love, from his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth), nn. 15-19:

Jesus brings God’s commandments to fulfillment, particularly the commandment of love of neighbor, by interiorizing their demands and by bringing out their fullest meaning. Love of neighbor springs from a loving heart which, precisely because it loves, is ready to live out the loftiest challenges. Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14).

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Perfection demands that maturity in self-giving to which human freedom is called.

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This vocation to perfect love is not restricted to a small group of individuals. The invitation, “go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor”, and the promise “you will have treasure in heaven”, are meant for everyone, because they bring out the full meaning of the commandment of love for neighbor, just as the invitation which follows, “Come, follow me”, is the new, specific form of the commandment of love of God. Both the commandments and Jesus’ invitation to the rich young man stand at the service of a single and indivisible charity, which spontaneously tends towards that perfection whose measure is God alone: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes even clearer the meaning of this perfection: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).

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This is not a matter only of disposing oneself to hear a teaching and obediently accepting a commandment. More radically, it involves holding fast to the very person of Jesus, partaking of his life and his destiny, sharing in his free and loving obedience to the will of the Father. By responding in faith and following the one who is Incarnate Wisdom, the disciple of Jesus truly becomes a disciple of God (cf. Jn 6:45). Jesus is indeed the light of the world, the light of life (cf. Jn 8:12). He is the shepherd who leads his sheep and feeds them (cf. Jn 10:11-16); he is the way, and the truth, and the life (cf. Jn 14:6). It is Jesus who leads to the Father, so much so that to see him, the Son, is to see the Father (cf. Jn 14:6-10). And thus to imitate the Son, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), means to imitate the Father.

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One Comment on ““holding fast to the very person of Jesus””

  1. Christian Says:

    Boy the spirit has been dropping me not so subtle hints for days now. I hadn’t read this post until just after I posted my ‘Diaconal Musings…’


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