Beyond Listening

St. John of the Cross wrote: “From my observation, our Lord is to a great extent unknown by those who claim to be his friends.” I thought of these words while reflecting on today’s gospel.

Jesus spoke of those who called him “Lord,” and who even claimed to have acted in his name. Nevertheless, Jesus said, they never really knew him. These words remind us that cultivating a personal relationship with the Lord is to be a priority in our life, not an afterthought.

Our Lord gives us clues on how to do this in today’s gospel reading. First, we need to listen to him as he speaks to us through Scripture, Church teaching, and in prayer. Yet we need to do more than listen. We also need to act. “Everyone who listens to these words of wine and acts on them,” said Jesus, “will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. On the other hand, Jesus describes the person who listens but doesn not act as a fool.

A young student once asked German theologian Karl Rahner what books he should read in order to grow in faith. “No books!” Father Rahner replied. “Go instead and serve the city’s poor.” That young person needed to act, in addition to “listening.”

And so do we. Today, each of us is challenged to be wise- to build our houses upon rock- by listening to Jesus, and acting in his name- that we might know him, as a true friend.

Readings for today’s Mass

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