In today’s Gospel reading Jesus continues His teaching about false prophets that we heard yesterday. He says some startling things: “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven;” and “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 things in your name? Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me you evildoers.”
I found myself wondering: Is it possible to do mighty deeds in Jesus’ name without knowing him? And the answer that came to me was yes. If we do the things we do in Jesus’ name for show, or to draw attention to ourselves, or to serve some purpose of ours, then it is possible to do these things without knowing Jesus. When it is all about us, then, as crazy as it may seem, Jesus is left out of the picture.
It isn’t so much that Jesus is looking for the grand or noble gesture that gets everyone’s attention. Jesus simply calls us to do God’s will: “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.”
When we seek to know God’s love for us and for all; when we seek to do God’s will in all things, we find once again the serenity and peace the world cannot give. As Jesus tells us in using the image of a wise person who builds a house on rock, the storms may come, and the winds blow, but the house does not collapse. We need not collapse when the storm gets rough because we know God is there for us, even when our trials may keep us from feeling that He’s there.
May we let go of wanting God’s glory, and only want to know God’s love and God’s will for us.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.