The Gospel according to Matthew (7:21, 24-27)
Jesus said to his disciples: “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. Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, as we read with out eyes and mind may we listen with hearts full of grace so we can better discern your will. Help us to turn down all the noise and confusion so we can receive the gift of your love and do your will.
Encountering Christ: As children we are notorious for not listening to our parents, teachers, or anyone who tells us what to do. This gets even worse when we hit the teen years and although it gets better as we mature, that is not always the case. I know when I am listening to hear and internalize versus appearing to give my attention when in reality, I am a million miles away. Although this is not always intentional, we have more control over this than we are willing to admit.
In this part of Mathew’s Gospel Jesus is addressing the issues of false prophets and true disciples. He admonishes those who speak in the name of God but whose heart is not aligned with God. He calls them ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. We have all been witness to prominent religious leaders who represent God and present a pious image but have fallen from grace because of scandal. Maybe that hits closer to home and your experience was in your own parish or a ministry. To take this one step closer, maybe when we look in the mirror we see an image that represents someone who is not who we portray we are. Fear not, redemption is at hand.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven except for the one who does the will of the Father. So far this does not sound too good for most of us. He also says if we listen to his words and act on them… We do listen and we do act on His words but let’s be honest and say, not always. He knows this! So, all we must do is build a house on rock and we will be set.
Before you rush off to Home Depot or Lowes pause, chill, and consider that all the “materials” we need to build this foundation is given to us by a generous, loving, and forgiving God. The bricks and mortar are our prayers, sacrifice, participation, and cooperation with the will of God when we listen to His Son. The corner stone upon which we build is Jesus himself who paid the price for our sin.
For all the times when we do not listen and act, we have the gifts of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. In Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians we are told, we are not children of the night or darkness, we are children of the day, of the light. Yes, we are not always the greatest listeners and do not always act according to the will of God, but our hearts are in the right place. We desire to follow Christ and listen to Him. We also strive discern the will of God and act in accordance with that will. We know the difference, deep in our hearts. We know when the grace of God, the love of His Son, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit are present in our lives.
Now listen to the words of our Mother Mary who tells us “Do whatever He tells you to do.” Thanks mom!!
Closing Prayer: We ask all the saints and our brothers and sisters who have gone before us to pray for us as we sometimes struggle to listen and do. The will of the Father is not always so hidden as it is buried under the weight of the world’s influence. Help us to embrace the love of Jesus for His Father, Our Father so we can listen to his quiet and gentle voice.
Action for the Day: Through prayer and whatever other spiritual practices you are engaging this Advent, pray for the clarity needed to listen with a humble and sincere heart. His voice will direct your actions toward something or someone who needs you and the grace God gives you.