DOING THE FATHER’S WILL—NOT JUST TALKING
The last kings of Judah did not seek God’s kingdom and lost their earthly kingdom. “Not those who say, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom, but one who does the will of my Father.” We are familiar with Jesus’ words, but do we follow them? Do we build on rock, that is, follow Jesus, or do we follow ourselves and our whims and so build on sand?
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus Christ challenges us
to honor you not only with our lips
but also in our hearts and with our deeds.
Help us to respond to his word
with all that is in us
and with him to seek your will
in all we do.
Grant us this through Christ our Lord.
1 Reading: 2 Kings 24:8-17
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, just as his forebears had done. At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, himself arrived at the city while his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who, in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive. And he carried off all the treasures of the temple of the LORD and those of the palace, and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel, had provided in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had foretold. He deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None were left among the people of the land except the poor. He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon, and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother and wives, his functionaries, and the chief men of the land. The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon all seven thousand men of the army, and a thousand craftsmen and smiths, all of them trained soldiers. In place of Jehoiachin, the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Responsorial Psalm 79:1B-2, 3-5, 8, 9
R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth. R.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire? R.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low. R.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake. R.
Alleluia John 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 7:21-29
Jesus said to his disciples: “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. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly 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. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
In today’s reading from Kings, one of the saddest chapters in the history of God’s people is recounted. The previous invasion of the Assyrians had taught Israel a sad lesson, but with the coming of the Babylonians a century or so later, every shade of past glory vanished. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, attacked and destroyed Jerusalem, deported its citizens, including the king, his mother, and the royal entourage. The temple and palace treasuries were pillaged and thousands of Jews deported. Imperial power may explain some of this; religious infidelity, much more.
The lesson of today’s Gospel is well illustrated in the sixth- century fall of Jerusalem. It is not sufficient to invoke the Lord’s name with the idea of manipulating his will. Nor is it sufficient to go through the motions of religious cult. It is only the house built on solid rock that survives. This had been the message of the prophets for centuries, but the warning had not been heeded.
Nothing in life that is valuable lasts without attention. No lasting goal is attained without effort. The Israelites learned the hard way that there is no sure and easy way to survive. There is a lesson here for all of us. We ignore it to our own grief.
– That we may not just hear and know the word of God but act accordingly and enthusiastically, we pray:
– That the Lord may be the rock in whom we put our trust and on whom we build our lives, that our faith may be rich and meaningful, we pray:
– That our friendships may be firm and reliable, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
this bread and this wine are signs
that we want to do your will.
Give us your Son to go with us
the loyal road to you and to people.
For you are our God for ever and ever.
Prayer after Communion
Lord God, our rock,
we want to build our lives on you
by the power of Jesus your Son.
Through him, make us strong enough
to keep on our feet when the rains of sorrow come,
and the floods of trials rise,
and when the storm winds
of doubt and fear blow in us,
for you are our firm rock for ever.
We want our life to be meaningful, to give direction to it. Let it be the direction given to it by God, by Jesus and his gospel. Let us with Jesus seek God’s will in all we do, for then we are sure our life is built on rock, solid and consistent. May God fill you with his blessing: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!