In today’s gospel, we see several scenes, but if we focus on one, we can see a better way to understand Catholicism.
Did you ever hear someone define God in terms of Heaven and Hell. “Do you really think God is going to send someone like me to Hell even if I do not practice my faith?” What is the standard of behavior there: that God is permissive and He will be happy or at least accepting about the minimum effort by those He calls to be his agents. If that is the case, he is the only authority that has that low standard.
But, what is the standard of behavior in this scene in the Gospel: Jesus welcomes those who do the Father’s will and excludes those who do not.
The issue is not what will get us into Heaven or Hell, it is rather what is God’s will. If we are doing God’s we will be welcomed by God, if we are not doing his will, in other parts of the Gospel Jesus uses the words: “I never knew you.” similar vein to what we see here. “My mother and my brothers are those who do the will of God, therefore those who do not do God’s will are not in my circle.”
So our standard of behavior is not what will get us into Heaven or get us cast into Hell, it is rather, what is it that God wants us to do and are we doing it? Notice something else. Passing or failing is not in the equation because where we see we failed, God may see success. Mother Teresa used to say: “It does not matter whether you succeed or fail, just that you remain faithful.”
So then when someone says, “I don’t have to go to Mass because God is not going to cast me into Hell for not going to Mass, they miss the real issue: “Will he welcome you to Heaven?”
But there is another side to this statement and it is often missed. The mother and brothers of Jesus are those who do the will of God.
So, if we are disciples of Christ as we call ourselves, then our mission is to do God’s will. Do you understand what that means. Let me give you the names of other people who did God’s will. Moses, Ruth, Ezra, David, Nathan, Samuel Ezekiel, Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Jonah, Job, Jeremiah, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and so many more. Do we see a pattern here. He is calling you to that circle of disciples. He is calling you to be experience His love for you and then share it with others. He is calling you to be a part of His mission to others. He is calling you to great things: Jesus himself said it, He is calling you do do great things but to be prepared for suffering great things as well.
Each of us have a call to do God’s will, it is not that we are called to be good you can be an atheist and be morally good and many are, we are called to live as Jesus’ disciples in service to God in what we do. That is a higher standard. Like the prophets of old, like the saints, like John the Baptist and even Jesus Himself, that requires us to be in union with God through prayer and Sunday Mass.
Then the more we take that seriously, the more we can do God’s will because we know what God wants us to do.
But what is God’s will? That we grow to be fully human and fully alive and our lives will glorify God. We are to become the fullness of humanity and become a sign of God’s truth to others.
We spend our lives learning how to become more the one who God calls us to be and to become agents of His will for others.
We do it by first learning how to do God’s will in small things and then we grow in learning to do it in big things. We go from learning basics like daily prayer, weekly mass, to growing over time and becoming an inspiration to others, which is what we are called to be. That is what it means to be witnesses to Christ. This means understanding that the world which rejects Christ will walk down the wrong path. We become prophetic to them to lead them away from what will be disaster without God.
We know that many in our church like my example at the beginning of this homily have chosen to walk down a path that negates all of this and they cannot grow in all that God is calling us to do in his will. He is giving us a great gift the opportunity to become his agents to others we turn it away considering ourselves wiser than God.
This is what God calls us to be and He welcomes us into His circle when we choose to do His will instead the minimum according to our standards.