"Make and keep yourselves holy,” God commands us, "because I am holy." (Lev. 11:44; 19:2) "You are to be perfect, adds Jesus Christ, "even as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt. 5:48).
We are obliged, therefore, to make every possible effort to advance in holiness. Sad experience teaches us, however, that it is very difficult to reach the level of sanctity to which we are called by God, and that it is impossible to achieve absolute perfection, which God alone possesses. Why, then, does God place before us such an inaccessible goal? Simply because, although He knows that we cannot attain the perfect holiness which is to be found in our heavenly Father, He wants us to desire it with all our hearts and to do our best to approach as near to it as we can.
This desire for sanctity should dominate all our actions. It may be impossible for us completely to achieve Christian perfection, but we should always strive towards it. All our actions and affections should form a ladder which will enable us to climb nearer to this ideal. If the desire for perfection dominates our entire lives, it will one day dominate and brighten the supreme moment of death. If we lack this desire, we shall fall into a state of tepidity and of indifference to spiritual realities which will inevitably end in sin.
The Son of God ardently desired our welfare and happiness. It was for this that He became man, preached His doctrine, gave us the Sacraments, and suffered and died on the Cross. "I have greatly desired," He said on the eve of His passion, "to eat this passover with you" (Lk. 22:15). He desired this because He wished to leave us Himself really present in the Blessed Eucharist as nourishment for our souls.
The entire life of Jesus Christ was a yearning for our everlasting salvation. Can we remain cold and unmoved in the presence of such infinite goodness? Surely we cannot. Our lives also should be a continual and ardent yearning for perfection, inspired by gratitude as well as by an appreciation of our own true interests.
There are two kinds of desire. (1) There is passive desire, such as that of St. Augustine when he kept repeating that he wished to be converted on the morrow. Hell is full of people who desired exactly that. (2) There is also efficacious desire, which is that of the man who intends to employ the necessary means of putting his resolution into practice. This is the kind of desire by which we should be animated. It may be that we shall encounter many falls and obstacles before we can carry out our resolutions, but the important thing is not to lose heart. We must keep going forward with the help of God and, at least at the hour of death, our efforts will crowned with success.