Homily notes for the 13th Sunday after Trinity
We read in today’s gospel from Matthew 7: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.We know that simple verbal profession of Christianity without the Christ-Life is meaningless – or, at best, only a beginning. It is the life lived which gives content and meaning to our words. But what constitutes doing the will of the Father? What are the good fruits?
Many will say to me: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? OK, this sounds pretty good: prophesy, exorcism, wonderful works in the name of Christ… Pretty good fruits, no? Signs of the living Spirit, yes? Jesus replies: I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Woah. Full stop. What could possibly be wrong here? I encourage you to meditate on the passage and see what understanding comes to you, as there are doubtless many angles which could be explored. As a start, it appears that these works are being done in a loud, public, showy way – attracting attention, making the doer “special,” “spiritual,” and otherwise the object of attention.
Paul points us in another direction in the first reading from Ephesians 4, beseeching us to walk worthy of our calling, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We can call down fire from heaven, carry on with ecstatic prophecies and healings, and generally make a fuss – and dramatic gifts can have a place. But it is much harder and much more essential to simply, quietly, put the good of others ahead of the preferences of our ego, bearing in love with those whose personalities we dislike. Seeing our sisters and brothers in the unity of the Spirit, knowing them to be one Body with us, and then displaying that knowledge in action are, I submit to you, the good fruits we are seeking. Then, we will be doers of the sayings of the Lord and not hearers only, together building a house which will stand secure through all storms to come.