Homilette for Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 16:1-12.15-16; Matthew 7:21-29)

Children like to fantasize about deathbed conversion. They ask their religion teachers about the possibility of living a life of leisure, then confessing their sins just before they check out, and finally experiencing even greater comforts in heaven. In this way they would defy their mothers’ chastisement, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” But today’s gospel shows mother’s wisdom to be on target after all.

When Jesus says that not everyone praying, “Lord, Lord,” will enter heaven, he has in mind those who think that they might reach salvation by only calling upon God. Rather, he adds, the sincere attempt to put into practice what he has just taught in the Sermon on the Mount is also required. We should emphasize that he is not denying the necessity of prayer as if we might meet the challenges of the Sermon by the force of our will. No, sooner or later, we realize that the tenets of Jesus’ Sermon are beyond even the best of us. We need God’s gracious hand in order to fulfill them, and we need his merciful arm to reach down for us when we fail to do so.