O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Matthew 7.21, 24-27
Concerning self-deception – hearers and doers
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
‘Everyone then who hears 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 beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!’
Many relationships flourish because of a complicated network of expectations and ‘routines’ that develop over time. Today’s reading reminds us of one such ‘routine’ that I often hear about: selective deafness. When I speak to older people about the longevity of their relationships they often speak of ‘selective deafness’, of knowing when not to hear. Such filtering of a loved one’s words helps to smooth over times of frustration, impatience and stress. It applies a filter which moderates hurtful words blurted out in haste. It covers moments of embarrassment, just as it allows us to surround ourselves with an unjustified sense of always being in the right, or living in a house founded on rock rather than sand.
The long-established use of selective deafness is one that Jesus warns against today. It is so easy to extend our search for the ‘quiet life’ in the everyday and the ordinary into other relationships, including our relationship with God. Selective deafness helps us to create an unreal world that is devoid of the challenges that really do confront us on a daily basis. Selective deafness weakens our resolve to fulfil our true potential as human beings made in the image of God, and as faithful disciples and apostles of Christ.
Jesus says: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
Jesus’ words to us are often challenging. Yes, there are moments of comfort, consolation and healing, words that are easy to hear, words that we would not want to filter out of our consciousness. But, there are also troubling words, words that invite us to step outside our self-created nirvanas in order that we might come to share his light and love with all.
Lord, open our ears to your words, that we might be your faithful servants in this troubled, divided and hard-of-hearing world.
Watchful at all times, let us pray for strength to stand with confidence before our Maker and Redeemer.
That God may bring in his kingdom with justice and mercy, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may establish among the nations his sceptre of righteousness, let us pray to the Lord.
That we may seek Christ in the scriptures and recognize him in the breaking of the bread, let us pray to the Lord.
That God may bind up the broken hearted, restore the sick and raise up all who have fallen, let us pray to the Lord.
That the light of God’s coming may dawn on all who live in darkness and the shadow of death, let us pray to the Lord.
That, with all the saints in light, we may shine forth as lights for the world, let us pray to the Lord.
Let us commend the world, which Christ will judge, to the mercy and protection of God.
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin to the
light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Uniting our prayers with the whole company of heaven,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon us,
scatter the darkness from before our path,
and make us ready to meet him when he comes in glory;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.