Yes, we should not just be good in words. We have to convert our words and intentions to concrete deeds. Otherwise, there hardly would be any effect!
In so many words, Christ said it. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7, 21)
St. Paul said something similar. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Rom 2, 13). And St. James: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (1, 22)
Christ himself lived by this principle, even at the expense of his own life. “I do nothing of myself, but as the Father has taught me…” (Jn 8, 28) And in the agony in the garden, he expressed that most eloquent submission to his Father’s will, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Lk 22, 42)
All the saints lived by this principle. And the epitome is Our Lady. When someone in the crowd told him his mother was around, he said: “Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12, 29-30)
Far from disparaging his own mother with those words, Christ was actually praising her to high heavens. Mary did not only beget her son biologically. She begot him through her deep and constant faith, through her faithful obedience to God’s will. Her ‘Fiat’ (Be it done) was not only uttered at the Annunciation. She lived it before and after that meeting with the Archangel Gabriel. In fact, she lived it all throughout her life.
We have to find ways and strategies to turn good intentions and nice words into action. We cannot deny that we, in general, are notorious in being good only in the former but bad in the latter.
For this, we first have to ask for the grace of God, which requires us to be humble. That’s because without humility we will always think that with our own effort and powers alone, we can achieve this union between intention and words, on the one hand, and the action, on the other. This will never happen. We need God’s grace always.
And even if that grace is given gratuitously and abundantly at that, we need to ask for it just the same to inculcate in our mind that things depend first on God before they depend on us. Yes, things depend on God 100 percent, even as they also depend on us 100 percent. But the proper priority should always be observed.
Insofar as things depend on us, we obviously need to train ourselves to be consistent with our intentions and words. So with God’s grace, let us practice and cultivate the habit of being true to our good intentions and nice words, until it becomes automatic or instinctive to us to turn our intentions and words into concrete deeds.
Yes, we cannot deny that this ideal can be difficult and that in its pursuit, we can suffer a lot of failures. But we should just go on, getting up after every fall, no matter how many times we fall. God’s grace has a way of repairing and healing things.
Our aim should be that our words are good as done. Of course, given our human condition, this may not happen all the time. Just the same, we just have to continue aiming at that ideal. Let’s take comfort at the thought that what is impossible to us is always possible with God. That is why we need to ask continually for God’s grace, so that our failures and frustrations can have their fulfillment in God’s hand!/WDJ