Sunday Scripture: We keep God’s word in our hearts
March 4, 2011
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32; Psalm 31:2-4, 17, 25; Roman 3:21-25, 28; Matthew 7:21-27.
Since next Sunday, March 13, is the first Sunday of Lent, the observances of the Lenten and Easter seasons will begin then. So this Sunday is the last celebration in Ordinary Time until the Monday following Pentecost, which will be June 13. It is also the last time the assembly sings the Alleluia until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night, April 23. That may seem to create a ponderous tone for the coming weeks, and it does that to some extent.
However, there is also a sense of celebration that builds at this time, for it leads up to the celebration of the mysteries of our redemption by Jesus, and then to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension in which we are incorporated by our baptism. The penitential season of Lent is our opportunity to reflect on our living of the Christian heritage and to rejoice in being members of the mystical body of Christ. This is one of the great blessings of our faith.
The readings of this Sunday, March 6, help us to prepare for the beginning of the holy season of Lent and its purpose to orient us to the Easter joys that follow it. The Deuteronomist reminds us to lay up God’s words in our hearts and souls and to keep them ever before us.
We have a choice in our response to those words. The responsibility of that choice is a blessing that enables us to make a free commitment to walk in the way of the Lord as best we can with the grace God gives us.
Paul’s great Letter to the Romans reminds us that God’s divine forbearance gives us the gift of grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It gives us time to be justified by faith through our loving response. Thus we are set free through God’s act in Christ.
What a remarkable gift we receive to be able to turn to the Lord and embrace His love for us in the difficulties of life. Expiation by Christ’s blood demonstrates at once both the seriousness of sin and the overwhelming measure of God’s love in sending His only begotten Son to be our redeemer.
Our Gospel reading brings a somber tone of judgment day in its idea that not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven. There are two groups of people represented: some who are faithful and those who are not. A separation parable follows as an illustration of the contrast of two groups of people.
In a practical vein, the text compares a house built on rock with a house built on sand. The house of the wise person who hears God’s words and does them will be secure in time of adversity. The house of the foolish person who hears God’s words and does not do them will fall in time of difficulty, and the fall will be a great disaster.
The caveat that follows the parable in the text comes in the astonishment of the crowds who heard Jesus’ teaching. He was different from other teachers such as the scribes. Jesus taught with authority. That put His hearers in the position of needing to develop a whole new way of thinking. Jesus’ teaching was to be taken seriously.
With our psalmist of this week’s liturgy we can call upon God to be our rock of refuge and a strong fortress to save us. “Lord, save us in your steadfast love” (Psalm 31).