Grace to you!
One of the scariest warnings of the Lord to believers is recorded in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus said: “Not everyone 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” (Matthew 7:21).
If anyone has doubts as to the limits of faith-alone claims, this very word of Jesus settles it. Profession in Christ is another way of saying faith in Christ. One may profess in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but this, the Lord Jesus says, isn’t enough.
In order for us not to make light what the Lord meant, he doubles down by re-emphasizing: “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” (Matthew 7:22-23).
This statement has a lot of implications. Faith has to be matched with action. The Letter of James was spot-on when it writes: “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:17-18).
It can’t be stated clearer.
Secondly, the Lord’s warning is a clear message to many who have been gifted to do “mighty” works in the name of God. Often, we get carried away by our so-called successes in the ministry. We begin to ignore our personal spiritual life and the call to holiness. We ignore sound spiritual and moral life basking in the euphoria of, “After all, God is doing his work in spite of me.”
The scandals that destroy the innocence of many churches and cause bad public image for the Body of Christ, the Church, is often due to the neglect of the commitment to holiness of life that should follow the use of our gifts. We become dulled in conscience and ignore the need to practice what we preach.
That God blesses his people with healings, miracles, growth of church membership and finances, massive infrastructure and thousands of followers on social media do not equate the life of holiness. God blesses his people not because of us but in spite of us. In doing God’s work, may we not be mere conduits. May we benefit too from the graces of our ministry. May we be sanctified too as we lead others.
We have to be vigilant not to get carried away so as to lose sight of our primary vocation to holiness and love, another way of saying, “Doing the will of God.” Be doers of the word and not only hearers, so we don’t deceive ourselves, Scripture says (Jas 1:22).
Who does not want his or her house built on a solid foundation? Become that wise person whom the Lord said, “built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
Praying for the grace to practice what we profess. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday, Week 12, Ordinary Time: Gn 16:1-12, 15-16; Matthew 7:21-29]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.