Thursday of Week 12 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Matthew 7:21-29

We come today to the final reading from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus spells out the essential quality of the true disciple. He or she is not to be measured merely by external activities. It is not enough, for instance, to keep saying “Lord, Lord…” That by itself will not bring a person under the kingship of God. It will not be enough either to be able to perform wonders like casting out demons or working other miracles, even in the name of Jesus. The true disciple is someone who is totally united to God in heart, soul and mind. Such a person is one who listens to Jesus’ words and carries them out. As we have said elsewhere, listening here means a number of things:

  • To pay attention to what Jesus is saying to us; to listen with attentiveness.
  • To understand what is being said, as it is possible to listen without understanding.
  • To accept fully and to assimilate into one’s being what one understands. It is possible to hear clearly, to understand clearly but not to accept or assimilate. Children do that all the time!
  • When we have fully assimilated as part of our own thinking what we have heard and understood, we will naturally act accordingly. It is only when all this becomes a reality in our lives that we can say we are truly disciples of Jesus and, as he says, that is the only sure foundation on which to build our lives.

    To live a Christian life only on the surface, that is, only with words and externally conforming behaviour, is like building a house on sand. Once we come under attack, we will collapse because we have no deep foundation inside. We see that happening frequently when people who have lived in an outwardly Christian environment move to a purely secular situation – and fall away very quickly.

    So let us be like that sensible man who builds his house on rock, the firm foundation that is Christ, with the vision of Christ also the vision of our own life, a life built on truth and love. With this we come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew clearly indicates the end by saying:

    Now when Jesus had finished saying these words…

    He adds that Jesus’ teaching made a deep impression on the people, mainly because he spoke with authority:

    You have heard that it was said…But I say to you… (Matt 5:38)

    That is, he spoke in his own name, unlike the Scribes who could only be interpreters of God’s Law.

    As mentioned at the beginning, the Sermon on the Mount is the first of five major discourses. It deals mainly with the qualities that are to be found in the individual follower of Christ. Let us pray that those qualities may be found increasingly in each one of us.

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