Thursday of the First Week of Advent
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a; Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Without getting into the theological weeds about what is necessary for one to enter heaven, there are essentially four things necessary for us to be CERTAIN of our salvation. This is contrary to the teaching of many of our Protestant brothers and sisters who believe only one thing is necessary: Faith. The four things we as Catholics understand to be key to our salvation are:
1) Baptism, 2) Faith, 3) the Eucharist and 4) doing the Father’s will (works).
Today Jesus teaches us about the importance of the fourth thing, doing the Father’s will.
Unlike the belief of so many in our world today, Heaven is not a prize for those who are basically good. You know the lie, “I’m a good person, I haven’t killed anyone and I go to Mass most Sundays. I’m sure that God, in his mercy is going to let me into heaven.”
But that’s not what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. He says, “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.” Heaven is for those who have reoriented themselves to do the Father’s will, rather than going through life serving themselves. Without a change of heart to serve God alone, we are in grave danger of not entering Heaven.
Truth is often not easy to hear. This is one of those times. Jesus’ teaching today is a hard one, especially for those who want to believe that in the end God will welcome us into heaven as long as we are good little boys and girls who are basically honest and nice to one another.
God is calling all of us to be in a relationship with him. God wants every one of us to be with him in heaven, but we must answer his call. We must respond to his call and do his will. We must turn from living according to our own selfish ideas and, by his grace, we must turn to him and do his will. We must experience metanoia, which can be defined as a profound transformation in our outlook on God and our fellow man.
We must reorient our lives to be lives of service, faithful to God. We must not only have faith, but we must also put that faith into action. We must do the will of the Father.
So how do we know the Father’s will for us? Well, certainly prayer is one of the keys. Listening to the Holy Spirit as he speaks to us in prayer is essential to know what God wants us to do for him. But reciting prayers daily and going to Mass regularly is not enough. Not if it doesn’t bring about a change in our lives. Not if we don’t act on what we hear in the scriptures. Not if we only listen to the scriptures, nod our heads and then leave this place to do whatever we want to do. Or, if we don’t do what we know we should do.
How else do we know the Father’s will? Through the teachings of his Church, the Church established by Christ and sustained for nearly 2,000 years by the Holy Spirit. In spite of the flaws and failings of those who are leaders and members of the Church, the Church and her teachings are not flawed.
By being faithful to Church teachings, even when we don’t fully understand them or find them difficult, we are doing the will of the Father.
So today let’s remember what Our Lord tells us in today’s gospel about the necessity of doing the Father’s will in order to enter heaven. This is one of the four essentials for salvation, along with Baptism, Faith and the Eucharist.
Let’s take some time to reflect on what we need to do, or stop doing, so that we might be truly doing the Father’s will.
God loves us so much. Let us love him in return by renewing our efforts to do his will during this Advent season so that we might be prepared to welcome him with joy as our infant king at Christmas.
Dear friends, we can do this! Let’s resolve to live our lives today and every day completely for our God. We were born for this! Amen? Amen!
God bless you.