for the ninth Sunday of the Year
Dt 11:18 & 26-28 - Rm 3:21-25a & 28 - Mt 7:21-27
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Obedience in freedom
Dt 11:18 & 26-28
Dt 11:18, «You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 26, Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: 27, the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, 28, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known.»
Rm 3:21-25a & 28
Rm 3:21, But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; 23, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. 28, For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.
Mt 7:21, «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. 22, 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?' 23, And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' 24, 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; 25, 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. 26, 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; 27, 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.»
" 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 this ninth Sunday of ordinary time, we find Jesus inaugurating his pastoral ministry in Galilee. Verses 21 and 24 to 27 indeed seem to relate to this period, whereas the other verses 22 and 23 develop an idea taken up again later by Saint Luke, in his thirteenth chapter, when someone asked Jesus: "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" (Lk 13:23)
In this first verse, Jesus intends to fix, from the beginning of his ministry, the difference between those who say or do things, and those who, when they say or do these things, truly become what they say or do. This means that Jesus expects all the men and women of the earth to truly be sons and daughters of the living Father, living this sonship, by the grace of God, in the Love of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus wants us to serve him with love, in the freedom of the children of God. And this can only happen in love and with the grace of God. For anyone can do such-and-such a thing as a slave - in the slavery of sin - and thus perform the same action as would a true child of God acting freely in love. To act like a son of God can be slavery; but to truly be a son of God in love is always freedom, even if we only accomplish apparently insignificant things...
" 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.' "
This passage describes well what the Lord wants us to understand today: accomplishing great things as slaves is useless! Let us preach, let us cast out demons, let us accomplish miracles: but if we do so as slaves, hypocritically enslaved by our most guilty passions, we can be sure that it will all be for nothing! "And then will I declare to them, «I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.» " (Matt 7:23)
Let us recall that, for the Lord, knowing someone means living of the same life as him. When we know the Lord and when we are known to him, it means that we participate in his own divine life. For the Life of God is a life of knowledge, as Jesus said in his prayer to his Father: "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn 17:3) "No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Lk 10:22)
" 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. "
If we wish serve the Lord freely, we must free ourselves of all slavery: we must make sure we are not attached, whether too much or too little, to anything, except God alone. In a word, we must be prudent! We must maintain a just balance in our affection towards all created beings. It is for God alone that our love should be without limit. Jesus said so. He summarized it in this beautiful verse: "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." (Matt 7:24)
Prudence is the mother of all the virtues! When we preach, let us allow for the Holy Spirit, who is almighty, to open the hearts of our listeners and to place there even but a small fragment of our preaching. If it is given to us to cast out demons or to accomplish miracles, let us be humble about having a share in such a power... Prudence and humility: these are two indispensable virtues for keeping us spiritually attached to the Lord, and for making sure that our house in the Kingdom of God is built on the Rock, who is Christ.
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary teach us, in the Holy Spirit her Spouse, to remain free for the sake of the Kingdom of God!