Dt 11:18, 26-28, 32; Rom 3:21-25,28; Mt 7:21-27
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I really like this line from the gospel. In essence Jesus says that all “yes men/women”, “brown-nosers”, “butt-kissers” (I am so tempted to say something else, but this is a family blog), and most especially hypocrites need not apply for opportunities in the Kingdom.
Which of course, were Jesus to apply this teaching according to the “Letter of the Law, would rule out about 99.99% of us. Only those prophets who regularly endure the scorn and violence of the resentful mob which cannot handle the unadulterated truth would find their way into the Kingdom.
Fortunately, Jesus is more of a “Spirit of the Law” kind of guy. He sees past the public face we show to the world, even past the faces we show to those who know us more intimately, into the center of our hearts. The risen Christ knows, much better than we do, how deep our commitment to our baptismal promises runs.
Does that mean that good intentions are enough. In the words of St. Paul (although not from this week’s reading), “Of course not!” Intentions of the heart that don’t manifest themselves in our attitudes and actions were never really there at all. No one who has been touched by God’s unconditional love through Christ can be left unchanged.
And no one who has been touched by Christ’s love, and in the light of that experience of unconditional love realized his/her own vastly more limited capabilities, can ever be quite so judgemental about another person again. All of us are united in our common, beautiful, fractured humanity. Being able to recognize this truth is the blessing Moses speaks about in the first reading.
When we begin to give into that subtle but persistent and many varied temptation that we are the specially chosen ones while others are on the outside looking in – that’s when we get a taste of life under the curse Moses also presents. That’s the curse of self-righteousness.
Deliver us, Abba, from this evil.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
(To read my book-length reflections on the scriptures, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com. My latest book is entitled, Make Room for Scripture.)