Memory of the Church

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Remembrance of Saint Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon and martyr (+202); he went to France from Anatolia to preach the Gospel.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 7,21-29

'It is not anyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?" Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers! 'Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!' Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, unlike their own scribes.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

These words conclude the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' first great sermon in Matthew's Gospel. At the beginning of it we encounter strong words: only those who do "the will of my Father" will be worthy of the Kingdom, not those who simply call on the name of the Lord. John Chrysostom condemned the passivity with which the Christians of his time participated in the Sunday Liturgy, because they got nothing from it that changed their lives. He said: "Do you think that spiritual fervour consists of the simple act of repeatedly coming to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy? It counts for nothing, unless you receive fruit from it: if we do not gather anything, it is better to stay home!" And, almost paradoxically, he added, "The church is a like a dyer: if you keep leaving without having been dyed at least a little, what use is it to keep coming?" And what it means to do the will of the Father is explained several times in the Gospel, as when Jesus declares, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day." (Jn 6:39). This is why Jesus came, and we are called to join him in fulfilling this dream. For the disciples, it means putting the words of the Gospel into practice, as Jesus himself 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," while "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 example continues: "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against" those two houses. These are the storms of life that we all experience. The first house, built on rock, stood strong; the other, built on sand, collapsed. Jesus presents two powerful images, comparing those who listen to the Gospel to builders. We do not listen to the Gospel as a literary exercise or to feel good. The words of the Gospel are given to us so that we can build our lives on a solid and stable foundation. The disciples must be nourished by this word every day, so that they do not build their lives on themselves - on their arrogance and their convictions, which, like the sand are inconstant and changing. The Gospel is the very word of God and has the same authority as the Father. Indeed, Jesus did not teach like the scribes but with authority, the authority of the Father who is in heaven.