6 March 2011 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 11:18-32; Psalm 31; Romans 3:21-28; Matthew 7:21-27
Jesus says in the Gospel today, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven." If not everyone, then some will. Who will then qualify? He continued, "only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven." Further on, He adds, "everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them."
In other words, there are prerequisites in being with God in heaven. First, we listen to God's words. Second, we find God's will for each one of us. He wants us to follow the teachings of Jesus such as those from the Sermon on the Mount (loving one’s enemies) and the Last Judgment (feeling the hungry, visiting the sick, etc).
Finally, we act on them according to our capacities and abilities. God wants us to live out the plan He had in mind for us when He created us. What is that plan? It is to use the talents God gave us, not for our own selfish agenda, but for the advancement of God’s Kingdom on earth. This is what we say when we pray the Our Father: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
In our world today, to find the starting point of our actions---God's desire for each one of us---is proving to be challenging. The world today has a culture of talk. Everyone is encouraged to "speak up and be heard." The internet has various platforms to articulate and express our ideas, opinions and even rants about anything and everything. Mobile devices does not allow a waiting period to regurgitate our ideas before it comes out. We can text, call, chat, and post instantly from literally our hands.
It is easy then to claim that we are right; that we hold the truth; that we are in tune with God's will, while other people's take on an issue isn't. It is easier then to tell everyone, that we do call on the Lord, therefore, they should believe us. Especially when we hold some power: as celebrities, as personalities with cult followers on Twitter or Facebook.
The challenge then is not to speak up, but to shut up. To close our mouths, in order to quiet down, listen, pray, research, reflect and think before we speak up, post or tweet. God speaks in the quiet of our hearts. Unless we are trained to do these, many of our opinions will be baseless, our tweets useless, our blog posts contentless, and our statuses trite and trivial. Worse, we might feed spoiled information to people who might not have the time to verify what you say because they have held on to your word by virtue of your personality.
And if our house, as the Gospel tells us, is built on sand, we expect it to crumble when the storms come. Sadly it is already happening in a culture of meaninglessness and hopelessness. As we approach the Season of Lent beginning Ash Wednesday this week, we allow ourselves some time to shut up.