Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, Jesus says that “only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” will enter the kingdom of heaven.  Many others who claim to have done great works in the Lord’s name will be turned away.

Why would Jesus say this?  Aren’t good works to be commended?

Remember that Saint Thomas Aquinas talked about there being three parts to a moral act.  There is the object, or the action itself.  There is the motivation.  And there are the circumstances.

If I gave a great sum of money to a hospital only to get my name on the building, have I done something for God or for me?  If I prayed an hour in the seminary chapel every day, was I doing it because of my desire to please God or to have the rector, who happened to be in the chapel at the same hour, think more highly of me?  If I did a good deed for one person, but then told a hundred other people about it, was I doing an act of charity or an act of self-promotion?

Am I doing the will of God, or am I building a resume to gain the adulation of others?

Actions done for reasons of self-promotion are not pleasing to God.

More than just avoiding selfishness, God wants us to be instruments of the divine will.  We are called to discern the will of God and then to act in line with it.  True discernment involves making significant decisions between multiple good options.  We do not discern between chicken and beef at a restaurant.  We do not discern whether to do evil.  We commit to our first vocation – a life of holiness.  In our pursuit of holiness, we discern our second vocation – priesthood, religious life, marriage, or single life.  Then, we can confidently discern our occupation. 

Within those vocations and occupations, we can discern other major decisions.  Where should I, or my family, choose to live?  What parish should be our home?  Where should our children go to school?  Should I move to a new job or take a transfer? As a priest, should I let my bishop know that I feel called to serve in a particular way? 

Ultimately, our lives are not our own.  We live this life making choices that lead to eternal life with the Trinity, or not.  We live these lives that God might be glorified through us.  We live these lives in service to God and others. 

It is not all about us.  Our actions speak loudly, though. 

In the end, do our actions say, “Look at me?”  Or, do they say, “Look at Him?”