Jesus said to his disciples: “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.” –Matthew 7:21
Words are cheap. St. Francis knew this. He is attributed with the notion of ‘preaching the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, (using) words.’ The bucket of clichés that amounts to ‘actions speak louder than words’ are many, and probably because it contains more than a kernel of truth.
Jesus was of course referring to the Pharisees who would make rather public displays of their prayers, in a ‘holier-than-though’ fashion. It was the ‘squeaky wheel gets the oil’ mentality only applied to eternal reward, i.e. salvation. Seeing this ‘closed mouths don’t get fed’ mentality, Jesus’ followers would have understood what he was after. (Have I used enough clichés yet?) Faith without works (and without love) is dead. Simple as that.
It is in the doing, not in the showing, where the kingdom is revealed. Leaving a twenty-dollar bill on the windshield of a stranger and walking away will bring forth the kingdom of God far more than someone who prays the daily office and at the same time opposes certain human rights to the underprivileged, underemployed, or underinsured.
There is a saying in Sufism: “What is spoken from the mouth reaches the ears, and what is spoken from the heart reaches the heart.” If I cry ‘Lord, Lord’ daily and yet mindlessly go through rote Catholicism, what kingdom am I entering? If I can give a meal to a homeless man, donate clothes to a shelter, or write Christmas cards to inmates incarcerated, which kingdom will that find me in? The will of the Father, summed up in loving God and others, seems quite clear. The empty words you speak will fall on deaf ears, but the actions intended with love will reach much deeper, reveal something far greater, and bring forth a beauty which no cliché would dare try to capture in words.