Today’s passage from Matthew’s gospel brings his Sermon on the Mount to an end. In it Jesus talks about how a true disciple of His takes in His words:
“Therefore everyone who listens to these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
The alternative is to build on a foundation of sand.
For Jesus, to “listen” is to listen attentively to His words, to understand what is being said, to fully accept and assimilate into oneself what one understands, and then to act accordingly.
It is against this backdrop that I constantly ask myself what Jesus’ words look like for me in the real world I live in and in concrete, daily terms. What do Jesus’ words call me to? How do they call me to act here in Morristown, NJ, in June of the year 2020?
In this context I find myself marveling over a current question that very much matters today if medical experts are to be believed.
If Shakespeare were alive today, he might say,
“To wear a mask or not to wear a mask. That is the question!”
For some it is a matter of personal freedom and overreach on the part of government to require masks. Freedom determines their course of action.
I personally hear Jesus’ words “Love your neighbor” in all of this, simply because by wearing a mask I am actively protecting my neighbor from the possibility of my transmitting the coronavirus. But, clearly, not everyone sees it this way.
In short, I find that Jesus in today’s gospel invites us to reflect on what it means to us to “listen” to His words —and act accordingly in very concrete and daily choices that we are called upon to make.