It is when full of charity that one is holy.
-Colman mac Beognai, Aipgitir Chrabaid (Irish, 7th century)
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
- 2 Corinthians 7.1
Holiness and love are two sides of the same coin. If we truly love, it is because we are holy. If we are indeed holy, it will be seen in the love we bear for others.
We don't have to look very far to see the truth of this. Consider Jesus: He Who was without sin also showed us the way of self-denying love.
"Silent night, holy night,/Son of God, love's pure Light." Holiness leads to love; love is the evidence of holiness. If we pursue holiness in the fear of God we will love our neighbors as Jesus did. When we see this love more consistently in evidence, we will know that the holiness of Jesus is being perfected in us.
The Christian life is "both/and" where these are concerned. Both holiness and love are required of the followers of Jesus; neither can exist without the other. We might like to think we can love others without taking seriously the call to holiness, but that would be to delude ourselves. Or we might think we can be holy without having to love others as Jesus did. That would not be true, either.
Holiness and love go together, as on that first Christmas morning. Love's pure Light coming among us made that night holy; its holiness lit up everything within it by the love of God.
Each Christmas should be for us a reminder of this twofold calling - to holiness and love. Each Christmas offers an opportunity for us to renew our devotion to Jesus and our commitment to following Him in holiness and love.
Don't let this Christmas go by without seriously examining yourself. Where do you stand in relation to holiness and love? We are called to both, as Jesus embodied both. Only in Him and by Him can we know any progress in these.
But He will graciously help us along the path of holiness and love if we surrender our sins and self-centeredness to Him, take up the cross He has appointed to us each day, and follow Him in pure and self-denying love.
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