“Practice what you preach!” “Not only talk the talk, but walk the talk!” “Actions speak louder than words!” “Preach the gospel but use words only when needed.” “By their fruits you will know them.” No matter how one puts it, faith by its very nature has to be a lived reality in our relationship with God and with one another. Parents, you know this because your children learn by your actions more than by your words.
Matthew’s Gospel, more than the other three gospels, emphasizes the need to put faith into action. We will find the culmination of Jesus’ teaching in the gospel for the Feast of Christ the King—the parable of the last judgment. What is at stake is the integrity of faith, the integrity of how we live out our faith in daily life. In order to be faithful to God, it means responding to the human needs around us. If we are blind to the human needs around us, we are blind to seeing God. Last Sunday Jesus gave us the two great commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus, in putting these two together, taught we cannot separate them. If we do not love our neighbor, we do not love God. He not only taught this, but it was His lifestyle and thus it is the lifestyle for us, His disciples. Faith involves words and actions, body and soul.
It comes down to living in right relationships with God, with others, and with ourselves. The “other” list we like to short-list. It is easy to love those we love, those we like and those whom we can tolerate. Jesus is talking about all our brothers and sisters. We live in an interconnected global society. This past week on the national news, scientists said that global warming may be reversible. How we use energy, what we do to the environment, and what candidates we support affects not only all of us, but all of our sisters and brothers on this planet, even those who are not born.
God made our hearts expandable. We have the capacity to love all our sisters and brothers. St. James in his letter makes it totally clear. He wrote, “Be doers of the words and not hearers only, deluding yourselves (James 1:22).” Let’s live in right relationships and as St. Francis instructed his brothers, “Preach the gospel, but use words only when needed.”
Sincerely yours in Christ,