Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March 6: Ninth Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

Link to Podcast
March 6: Ninth Sunday Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Deut 11:18,26-28,32; Rom 3:21-25,28; Matt 7:21-27

A choice between blessing and a curse; obeying and disobeying; listening and not listening; acting on the word of Jesus or not acting on it; building on rock or building on sand. Those phrases help us to unlock the central message in the readings of this Sunday. All three readings converge around the theme of listening and acting on the word of Jesus. That may be described as choosing to live a life of faithful obedience; a choice that brings blessings. Moses in the first reading places before the people a contrast between the two choices. “I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse; a blessing for obeying the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin on you today; a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord, your God…” That dynamic of faithful obedience and putting faith into action is continued in the Gospel in terms of doing God’s will, an aspect that connects well with the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This passage is Paul’s famous thesis on “Justification by Faith”. In other words, right relation with God does not depend on works of the law, but has already been accomplished in Christ. Consequently, one is saved, not by deeds, but by faith in Jesus Christ. That argument seems to be a direct contrast to the Gospel’s insistence on action after hearing Christ’s word. But the Point of Paul in this passage is that works of the law do not earn salvation. In other words, going to Mass by itself or doing a novena cannot earn a ticket to heaven.

In the Gospel, Jesus starts by saying, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Then Jesus goes on to demonstrate that prophesying, driving out demons and doing mighty deeds in his name are no arguments for entering the kingdom of heaven. What matters most is choosing to live in right relationship with God; a life based on what Jesus teaches. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock….And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.” Jesus presents this parable of the two builders as a metaphor for us to choose between being wise and therefore building our house on solid rock – living a life of deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ; or being like a fool who builds his house on sand – living a life of disobedience away from Jesus Christ. When our foundation is grounded on Jesus, that does not mean we do not encounter trials that may shake us up. That is why Jesus brings in other metaphors of the rain, the floods and the wind. These are the tribulations that always accompany us as followers of Christ. On the one hand the wise person stands on unshakable ground that brings blessing, and on the other hand the foolish person stands on quick-silva that may bring about sudden destruction which is a curse. Salvation is like being rescued from the enemy, but to be rescued, we must live out what Jesus teaches; we must obey his word. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings help us to understand that doing God’s will is necessary for entering into eternal life; 2) As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to live a life of faithful obedience to what Jesus teaches by living out that teaching. In other words, it is not a question of saying prayers or going to Mass or visiting the sick or prisoners that will save us, but our genuine relation with God that overflows into witness. 3) The readings put before us a clear choice between living a life of faithful obedience to God and acting accordingly, or living in disobedience to God and missing completely the path to eternal life. The choice is yours.

©John S. Mbinda
Fr. John's Homily and Music

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