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.