Abbot Philip: ‘Believing without acting on the belief is not belief’

Chapel at Christ in the Desert monastery

The good monks at at Christ in the Desert monastery in Abiquiu, New Mexico, emails Abbot Philip’s weekly sermon. I especially appreciated his thoughts from Sunday, Feb 27. If you ever have a chance to visit them, please do. And donate to their life and ministry.

“Moses told the people:  “Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.” – from Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28,32

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” … – from Matthew 7:21-27

There is a contrast given to us today between the person who takes the word of God into his or her heart and soul and acts on it and the person who simply speaks the word of God but does not live it.  In our hearts there is the struggle to do God’s word faithfully. The first reading today, from the Book of Deuteronomy, puts so eloquently what God wants of us:  Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.

The author of this book goes on to give us some tips about how to remember these words so that we can take them into our heart and soul.  He tells us to bind them on our wrists and put them on our foreheads. In our present day secular culture, people often put notes on their computers or on their doors or on their mirrors.  This reading raises in us the question of how we try to remember the word of God and bring it fully into our hearts and our souls.

The Letter to the Romans, from which comes our second reading (Romans 3:21-25, 28), puts its focus on faith:  we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.  We could ask a question very similar to one that Jesus poses elsewhere:  who has faith?  The one who does the works of faith or the one who only speaks about it?  The Gospel of Matthew today also poses this same question about belief.

The Gospel tells us that doing mighty works is not enough.  Even doing mighty works in the name of the Lord is not enough.  We must believe from our heart and soul.  So today we are invited to become followers of Christ in a totally committed way, both believing and doing.  Doing, by itself, is no good.

Believing without acting on the belief is not belief.  Let us believe and do! —Abbot Philip, OSB