Homilette for Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

(Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 12:28-34)

Elvis Presley sang a famous song titled, “Words.” “It's only words,” he crooned, “and words are all I have to take your heart away.” In the first reading today, the prophet Hosea tells us to woo God’s heart with words. “Take with you words,” the prophet says, “and return to the Lord.” Our words are like a radio broadcast. We do not have to climb any mountains or cross any seas to reach Him. We only have to say that we are sorry for having offended Him.

But our words must be truthful. Sometimes we use them deceptively or, at least, in ways that do not match our abilities. “I would do anything for you,” a university student told his girlfriend. “Would you go to the library with me Friday night?” she asked. “I would,” he replied, “but I am busy at that time.” For our words to be truthful, we have to commit ourselves to what they say.

The step between words on the lips and commitment in the heart is all that is missing from the scribe’s entering the Kingdom of God in the gospel. Jesus is not criticizing the man when he says that is he is “not far from the Kingdom of God.” He only means that the scribe’s approval of Jesus’ commandments is not enough for salvation. He must take Jesus’ words to heart and put them into practice. As St. Paul writes to the Romans, both confession with the mouth and belief in the heart are necessary to be saved.