Saturday, March 05, 2011

Only the One

March 6, 2011
Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

“I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse: a blessing for obeying the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today; a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, but turn aside from the way I ordain for you today, to follow other gods, whom you have not known.” Deuteronomy 11:26-28

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice deliver me; incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me. You are my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead and guide me. Psalm 31:2-4

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Our piety consists of the Word of God taken into our heart and soul. St. Francis says: “Preach always and occasionally use words.” We live our piety more than speak it. Moses told his people to bind the words of God at their wrists and instructed them to let them be a pendant on their foreheads so that people could see that they belonged to God. We today have very few external signs for what we stand. On Ash Wednesday we wear ashes as a sign of penance. Many Christians come to Church for the ashes on this one Wednesday of the year. One can wonder why? It could be that having an external sign of our belonging to God is a deep seeded need on peoples’ hearts that ashes address. It is important to put ourselves on record that we belong to God. We make more of an effort to live up to what we stand for when we declare our beliefs in the external forum. What we say we are going to do, we expect others to appreciate and we try to live up to what we have formally said to our world.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven.” He tells us we have to do the will of his Father in Heaven. He lets us know that if we love him, we will keep the commandments. All the visions in the world will be useless to us if we are not living up to what the Father is asking of us by the commandments. The commandments are the statements of interpersonal relationships. They are not a measure of what we are getting from others. They are the measures of what we should be doing for others. We study the words of Christ and we try to act on them. Christ’s words are the foundations on which we build our piety and they are the solid ground for a house in good order that is not built on sand. Houses built on sand will collapse when the floods come and the winds blow. We study how to firm up our lives on the words of Christ.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Our living up to the words of God bolsters our faith. Actions take the words of our hearts and give flesh to them. Even as the Word of God became flesh to dwell among us, the words of God that are on our hearts need to be fleshed out by our observance of the statutes and decrees of God. Then the Lord will be our rock of safety. Christ is the Word of God that claims our hearts by Baptism. We have Christ as a prisoner of our hearts until we live his word in our love for one another. The righteousness of God lives in us when we live our lives in the redemption of Jesus Christ. It is in the giving of our lives for our neighbors that we have the right to claim Christ as our salvation. Thus Christ is our rock of safety. Thus the words of Christ take over our hearts and we have the right to call Christ our Lord.