Last weeks (Sunday: Mt 7:21-27) gospel spoke to me at more than a couple of levels. First, it was the gospel reading that my daughter and her husband chose for their wedding. As I watch them walk together (they’ve been married about 2 1/2 years now), I truly get the vision of a house built on the rock. And that gives me a certain peace. Times will surely be rough for them at times, and times will certainly be great. I believe they walk on solid ground.
However, Jesus’ words give me pause. Listen to the first part:
Jesus said to his disciples:
â€œNot everyone who says to me, â€˜Lord, Lord,â€™
will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
â€˜Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?â€™
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
â€˜I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.â€™
Obviously, there’s more to this salvation thing than just doing good deeds. It seems that I must do the goods deeds that I personally am called to do. Not just those things that I think might be useful, but those things that I personally am called to do. And to understand what that might be, I have to pay attention and take the time to know the Lord and listen.
I recall reading Thomas Merton’s words:
THE FACT THAT I THINK that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
When I’m unsure, I can remember these words and hear that they ring true for me. This journey is not so much about following a set of rules, but responding to the person of Jesus. That’s what I hear in this gospel reading – what He’s asking is to know him and follow.
Jack’s illustration was that of a child who is told “Clean your room.” Instead, the kid decides to wash the dishes and expects praise for doing so. He/She is not likely to get that great pat on the back for doing a “good deed” of washing the dishes, because what Mom asked for was to “clean your room.”
How many times do we do that? With God and with each other. How many times does my husband say “I need you to post your checks in the check book” and I respond by sweeping the floor, or cooking dinner. Both are good things that need to be done by someone. But they aren’t what he asked for.
I’ll have to sit with all this for a while. My first step was to come home from church and post those checks – without being asked again (and again). It’s a small step. But it is a step.