In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus warns that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven.” Listening to the Word is not enough, says Jesus. One must listen to the Word and act on it.
What does it mean to “listen to these words of mine and act on them”? Jesus demands more than mere external actions. (Remember his criticism of the Phrarisees later in Matthew’s Gospel for washing the outside of the cup and dish when “inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.”) Instead, Jesus demands nothing less than a true conversion of heart, a metanoia, an inner transformation. That is a lot bigger commitment than merely changing a few of our actions in the world. It is a commitment that entails giving over one’s life to God.
Advent is a good time to ask the question: Am I willing to let Jesus change everything? Am I willing to allow my being to be completely filled with Jesus so that I am alive with his presence? If the answer to those questions is yes, then we need to be attentive to the question: What am I doing this Advent to make room in my heart and soul for Jesus to fill?