As a young man, I found this Gospel reading challenging. I always questioned, “is Jesus speaking to me? Am I one who says ‘Lord, Lord,’ but does not do the will of the Father?”
But upon reading it a little more deeply and from a perspective a little further along in life, I find comfort in it, as well as challenge.
First off, looking at the Greek word that is translated as “to do,” I found it can also be translated as ‘to make’ or ‘to be the author’ of something. So another translation might be “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who make the will of the Father their own.” Or, “those who hold the will of the Father in their hearts.” For me this seems more obtainable than “doing” the will of the father. One of my frequent prayers is to know the will of the Father. I find my ego can be very clever at laying my will over God’s. But to hold the desire in my heart to do God’s will, that I can do.
The next section of the reading took a little bit more life experience rather than academic research to understand. All and all, I had a pretty easy childhood. I had a stable home life, a loving family, and, although not well off, there was always enough. But, as with any life, as I grew older I was “buffeted by the wind and the rain and the floods.” The deaths of loved ones, loss of jobs, serious illness, have all swept through my life at one time or another. And yet I can say that my house of faith still stands. Holding the words of Jesus in my heart allowed me to move through these trials. And it’s interesting to note that in this reading the floods, rains, and winds come to both those who hold the words of God and those who don’t. None of us are safe from the storms that life brings. But by making God’s will our own, by making Jesus’s words our own, we can weather the storms that come stronger than before.
Talib Huff is a volunteer and presenter at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.