People assume that showing up in church on Sundays is all they have to do. Lots of Catholics attend Mass without being changed by their encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, because they are only using the Mass as an insurance policy. We can sit in church and even sound like Christians outside of church, but we only become free of the hellish forces of sin by wanting to receive the grace of Christ’s redemption. We can only become Christ-like by wanting to be changed in our encounter with the Eucharist.
Trying to work our way into heaven by what we do without first having faith in Christ makes us like the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel reading to whom Jesus said, “Woe!” We could make a large donation to build statues of the saints as decorations in the church, but if we are not learning from those very same saints, following their example of holiness, we are condemning ourselves by the contrast between our lives and theirs.
True faith motivates us to do good works, not because we want to get into heaven but because we appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. And we know that with this faith we are already receiving heaven. We want to do good works because we want to be like Jesus.