1 June 2008 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 7, 21-27 Faith and Justice
The Gospel teaches us that no one will emerge triumphant in the last judgement on the sole basis of right words or spectacular deeds of spiritual power. We will be saved only with a life of love and justice. Matthew therefore challenges Christian complacency and arrogant assurance of salvation.
First, no one will be saved on the sole basis of saying the right words. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven.” We may proclaim to the whole world that we have been slain by the Spirit; or we have given a general declaration that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior, but if we do not lift a finger to throw away the garbage in our rooms or neglected our responsibilities at home and in school, then we will not be saved. In addition, not even spectacular spiritual activities such as prophesy, exorcism, healing assures a person salvation. One may be a healer to countless people, but if one is not concerned about the plight of the poor when transportation and electricity fees soar, then one will not be saved. In other words, Jesus tells us that justice is an integral element of our faith. These two elements cannot be separated. Our faith naturally directs us towards justice.
Therefore, we cannot be complacent, assured that we are already saved. Being a Christian by baptism is not a guarantee, we have to move towards living a truly Christian life, integrating what we say and what we do. Living a Christian life at present (right now!) will have its challenges. Our world today is marked by changes, conflicts and new possibilities. In our global culture that homogenize all other cultures, we live in a tension between building a global village or asserting our individual or local culture. We value autonomy and the life at present (being rich not in twenty years but now and products assuring instant and immediate results), but we are in need of building a future as one family on earth. We have better ways of communication through texts messages, emails, chats and social networks, but many of us feel more alienated, isolated and excluded. With the growing tension and paradoxes of our culture plus the many different influences that vie for our undivided attention, it is easy to lose our faith, our values or under-prioritize them. It would be easy for our house to crumble when the rains of our lives fall because it is built not on rock but on sand. In fact, faith life is the first to go when in conflict with other practical needs.
The key is to live in the tension which would require constant dialogue and discernment since we make choices everyday. We have to be sure and clear about what we value or who we cherish before the many seductions pull us apart. Vatican II urges us to go back to our roots and build from there. Jesus, in his ministry, would read from the prophets, thus building his service from the Jewish faith tradition.
If our foundations are strong, we discover that our faith would move us towards building the right relationship with God, with one another especially the marginalized and isolated, and with creation as we all take responsibility to clean up and care for our home, the earth.