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.” (Matthew 7:21, 24-27)
Jesus uses an image today, taken from his conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, about how we’re supposed to live what he teaches. “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.”
That’s what our response is supposed to be to Jesus’ coming: to build our life on his taking on our humanity so that we may share in his divinity; to construct our existence on Him in the present, in his Word and sacrament.
Not everyone lives this way. Many are foolish: we hear his Word, we may even be able to cite chapter and verse, but we don’t act on it.
There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested.
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.
To build our whole existence on Jesus requires great trust, because Jesus’ words are different than the world’s. It’s challenging to build our life on the word of forgiving seventy time seven times, to love our enemies, to love others as God infinitely loves us, to speak out in peace to those who seek to fractionalize us.
It’s hard to build our life on the commandments, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and especially in the Beatitudes which began the Sermon on the Mount. But hard is not impossible. And God gives us himself to make the difficulty lighter and sweeter. God encourages us to do so today. “Trust in the Lord forever!” God calls us through Isaiah. “A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.” The Psalm says, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”
This is true and Advent is a season for us to act on that trust and the reasons for it.
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.”
Those who say “Lord, Lord” but do not align their actions with God’s will only pay lip service to Christ. Some might profess to be Christian, for example, but not act in a Christian way. Or they might pray to ask for God’s guidance but then not follow up and act in accordance with what they have discerned to be God’s will for them.
We can ask ourselves in what way we have paid lip service to Christ instead of aligning our actions with our words. Are we truly living our faith in an authentic way? Practicing obedience to God counteracts a habit of paying lip service because it requires listening to God and then doing what he asks of us instead of doing what we want to do.