Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 7:21)
How do we know if we are doing the Father’s will? There are several cross referenced scriptures to these words of Jesus that may provide clarification.
The Apostle John says, “Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Declarations of love are fine, but unless they are supported by actions, they ring hollow and fade.
James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” It doesn’t do us any good to read or listen to the Word of God and then not do what it says. James says it is like looking at yourself in the mirror and then immediately forgetting what you look like. (James 1:22-25)
When we think about fulfilling God’s will, we often think of the big decisions in life such as where will I go to college. What should be my major? Should I consider a religious vocation? Should I marry? What kind of job should I seek? Where should I live? How many children does God want us to have?
However, the small, everyday decisions are often just as important in fulfilling God’s will because they tend to set the pattern or habit that determines whether we fulfill God’s will with the larger decisions.
This past week, I encountered one of those small decisions.
As a Eucharistic minister for my church, I take communion to residents at a local nursing home once or more a month. Our usual practice is to have a group service for those who are ambulatory, and then go to individual rooms for those who are not and to the third floor where the Alzheimer residents reside.
I was informed by the social director that one of the Alzheimer residents was indisposed and that left only one other person, whom I will call Shirley, who is usually sleeping and most of the time doesn’t receive communion.
My first reaction was to skip the third floor and return home, but then I thought maybe I should check to see if Shirley was awake. It turns out that she was in the third floor dining room just finishing her breakfast. I went to her table and asked if she wanted to receive communion. She did not respond. I knelt down on one knee by her chair, put my hand on her hand and asked if she wanted to say the Lord’s Prayer. She nodded yes, and we slowly recited the Lord’s Prayer together.
I again asked her if she wanted to receive communion, and she said, “I want to be a good girl.” I said, “Shirley, you are indeed a good girl and God loves you very much.” She then received communion. The next thing I knew she was grabbing my hand and kissing it. I was a bit embarrassed as I withdrew my hand, but realized that in her uninhibited way, she was responding to God’s love. I was just standing in as his agent.
It was a small decision to go to the third floor, but both Shirley and I were the beneficiaries.