"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter into the kingdom of heaven."1
It is interesting to hear what other Christians have to say about the way in which people can be saved and enter into the kingdom of heaven. Some say that you must have faith -- and often enough what such people mean by faith is more like trust in God, rather than belief in what He has revealed -- often enough they really mean a one time emotional experience, rather than a lifetime of belief. Some are convinced that salvation depends solely on keeping the rules; God's Commandments, and perhaps the Precepts of the Church -- some of these folks are convinced that there aren't enough rules, and make up a few of their own. Yet others are convinced that salvation lies solely in doing good for the poor, or the politically down trodden -- sometimes getting off on extremist causes like saving the snail darter, or starting political revolutions. Finally, some will suggest that Baptism is the one essential ingredient of salvation.
As Catholics we know that all of these things, except the extremes and the exaggerations, are necessary for salvation. If, however, we had to pick just one phrase from the Bible to describe how people are saved, today's Gospel might be the place to look: "He who does the will of My Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven." I say that, because this phrase includes all of the others.
It ought to be the goal of every Catholic to shape his own will according to the will of God -- a constant striving for personal discipline, so that without a great deal of thinking or deliberation he just normally does the things God wants him to do.
If we are conditioned to do the will of God, we will, of course, believe in the things that He has revealed: that He is eternal; the Creator of all things out of nothing; that He is one God in three divine Persons; that in His house there are many "mansions" and that a place awaits us in one of them. Because we are conditioned to do His will we will have no reason to fear when He says, "those who do not believe shall be condemned." "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" is just another way of saying that "he who does the will of My Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven."
Certainly, if we are conditioned to the will of God, we will keep His Commandments and the precepts of His Church. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life everlasting." Remember that our Lord told us that the Commandments and all of His laws can be contained in just two great commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thine whole heart and soul and mind and strength; and thy neighbor as thy self." And, once again, this is much the same thing as making God's will our own.
And what about the need to be doing good in the world? Again, this is indistinguishable from doing the will of God: "When did we see our Lord hungry and feed Him, thirsty and give Him to drink? When did we clothe Him, or visit Him when He was sick or in prison?" The answer, of course, that He gives is that "we do all of these things for Him when we do them for the neediest of our brethren." Why are these things good -- the answer is simply because God wants them done, and by doing them we are doing His will.
Now, it may not always be easy to do God's will. It will be most difficult for those who are not in the habit of doing so, but it will become easier as the habit is acquired and put into constant practice. We may fail on occasion, for our human nature is rebellious, just as was the nature of Adam and Eve -- but surely, our benevolent Father in heaven will be prepared to overlook the occasional failures of those who are generally faithful. "The good tree cannot bear bad fruit" -- even our occasional failings will be testimony to the fact that we are always striving to do God's will.
"He who does the will of My Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven."