( A commentary on Matthew 7: 21-29 )
Daily Reflection – 6/24/2021
“Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7: 21-29)
For some people, it’s not until later in life that they reflect on how they have built their lives. For others, it is not until adversity that they learn how secure are the under pinning’s of life. For some, it is an ongoing review that gives them the strength and the purpose to move forward.
The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms and trials of life that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool one another with our words, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is – with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).
Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with two remarks. The first is about truly knowing him through doing the Father’s will. The second is getting to know him through building one’s life on his word, which is essentially the same as doing his will. Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount not just as a moral discourse, but as a way to come to know him intimately through doing his will by putting his words into practice.
He wants us to build our life on what he has revealed to us in the Sermon on the Mount.. It’s not enough for us to pass a quiz on the Beatitudes. We must, with God’s help, become poor in spirit, meek, peacemaking, and pure of heart; we, like Jesus, must love others enough to more when they are physically or spiritually in pain, we must hunger and thirst for holiness, we must be willing to be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.
We must really become the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We must live the seven antitheses Jesus announced, not hating others, not lusting, not divorcing and remarrying, being truthful always, reconciling with brothers and sisters, not seeking vengeance, loving our enemies and being good and praying to those who persecute us.
We must refuse to serve mammon and to seek after material goods but seek first the kingdom of God and his holiness. Not to do so is foolishly to build the house of our life out of cardboard on a foundation of quicksand.
Today Jesus calls us to examine whether our lives are really built on the words he has taught us, whether we’re really living in the way God intends. Many of us “sort of” live by Jesus’ words. We’ll put “some” of them into practice. But it would honestly be an exaggeration to say our entire life is built on them.
As Jesus says in his images at the beginning of today’s Gospel, It’s not enough to call to him in prayer, by crying out “Lord, Lord”; it’s not enough for us to spread his word by “prophesying in his name”; it’s not enough for us to do some good deeds; he wants us to put these words into practice, to be his full-time disciple, his full-time follower, his full-time friend, to know him much more intimately than a loving husband and wife know each other.
Otherwise, he’ll say, as he mentions at the end of today’s Gospel, “I never knew you!” We get to know him by living together with him, by keeping a holy communion of life and love.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are the only foundation that can hold us up when trials and disaster threaten us. Give me the wisdom, foresight, and strength of character I need to do what is right and good and to reject whatever is false and contrary to your will. May I be a doer of your word and not a hearer only.”
What can keep us from falsehood and spiritual disaster? If we make the Lord Jesus and his word the rock and foundation of our lives, then nothing can shake us nor keep us from God’s presence and protection. Is the Lord Jesus and his word the one sure foundation of your life? If so, then living his word is an automatic reflex.