Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 7: 21-27 March 6, 2011
The message from today’s gospel is painfully plain. There are no fine distinctions or careful qualifications. When it comes to the evaluation of our behavior in this life, mere words, like “Lord, Lord,” will not count for very much. Even in a non-religious context, we are accustomed to say, “Words are cheap.”
What will finally be revealed as the one thing important in life will be, according to Jesus, “the will of my Father.” Unfortunately, there will be no lack of those who will recite the list of their supposed accomplishments. They will claim to have prophesied, or cast out demons, or even to have performed mighty deeds…but all of these “good works” will have been by their own definition and under their own control.
There will be a terrible judgment on these self-chosen deeds. The words that we hope never to hear are the words of Jesus: “I never knew you.” Surely there is nothing more urgent in our lives than to discover how to forestall such a frightening divine judgment.
The story of a house built on sand which cannot withstand the storm aptly illustrates the sad situation of a person who never really accepts and lives in accordance with the wisdom of God as revealed in Jesus.
This divine wisdom, so powerfully revealed in the life of Jesus, is found everywhere in the gospel, but one of the most dramatic revelations of this occurs at the Last Supper. We must remember that this is the last opportunity that Jesus will have to speak with his disciples. It should not surprise us then to hear him summarize all his teaching in one dramatic and challenging statement. Taking the bread in his hands, he says to his disciples something that they never heard him say before: “Take and eat; this is my body,” and then, taking the cup, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:26-28).
Jesus tells us, his present-day disciples, that we must imitate him as he gives his body and blood—his very life—for the sake of others. This is the wisdom that will allow us to build a house that can resist all possible storms. We need to open our hearts to the love of God so that we may be free enough to choose to love others…and then we must do so, as much as we can and as much as they need. If we can dedicate ourselves to this apparently foolish, but really supremely wise way of living, we will surely hear God say to us, “I have always known you. Welcome home!”
Demetrius R. Dumm, OSB