It’s interesting that in the Gospel reading it’s the unclean spirits who recognize the holiness of Jesus. The religious leaders of the time didn’t get it, and sometimes I think we don’t either. The author of our letter to the Hebrews today puts it rather clearly: “It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.” I think we tend to get rather easily the immanence of Jesus: that he is our friend, that he is close to us. And that’s good because it’s absolutely true. But sometimes we miss the transcendence of Jesus: his holiness and the fact that he is above and beyond anything we can possibly imagine with regard to grace and divinity.
If we knew and appreciated the holiness of Jesus, we would never enter the church without a trip to the Tabernacle, even a brief one. We would call on him to bless all our endeavors and plans because his ability to act on behalf of his beloved comes from his place in the Blessed Trinity. We would conscientiously genuflect and bow in adoration of him at all the appropriate times. We would be careful of how we used the name of the Lord in our speech.
It’s a great gift to us that Jesus is both immanent and transcendent: he is both near to us and far beyond our wildest imaginings. We can never know him fully, because there is infinitely more of him to know. That’s what keeps our spiritual lives fresh: we can come to know Jesus and be one with him, but there is always more of him to grasp, more that we can learn, more that we can experience, more that we can love. That’s why spiritual growth is a life-long process, really a life-long gift.
And so, today we should take time to step back and see how it is that we have come to know Jesus. We are grateful for what has been revealed to us, and eager to find what is still to come. We are grateful that he is close to us, and we rejoice that he is beyond us in ways we cannot even come close to knowing. If even the unclean spirits are impressed at the holiness of Jesus, then we have to be too. We have the word of God and the ministry of the Church to remind us of who Jesus is. Everything we say and do should reflect what the unclean spirits said: “You are the Son of God.”