Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday in the 1st Week of Advent
Building and Stripping

Readings: Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a; Matthew 7:21, 24-27

Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock…

What is it like to immerse ourselves wholeheartedly into our Advent project of entering and remaining in the Father’s House, of doing the Father’s will? Jesus answers this question for us in the gospel today by using a metaphor that seems very easy for us to understand. It is the metaphor of construction. To do the Father’s will is to listen and to act upon Jesus’ words and so to become like the man who built his house solidly on rock. Sounds simple enough, especially to our modern ears, accustomed as we are to construction projects of all sorts. Are we not preoccupied, on a daily basis, not only with the building of skyscrapers and roads, but also with the construction of economies and careers, of personalities and intellects? And yet, as easy to grasp as the metaphor seems to be, it is also just as easy to misunderstand.

For we are used to the kind of construction that emphasizes accumulation. We store up sand and gravel. We acquire bank accounts and investment portfolios. We study for MBAs and put together impressive resumes… So it’s not surprising if many of us view the building of our spiritual life in much the same terms. We increase our knowledge of the Bible and the Catechism. We join more church groups and activities. We acquire more disciplines of prayer and devotion. All these are, of course, important and invaluable means to a healthier spiritual life. But isn’t it important to remember that they are still only means, and that they should not be allowed to hinder us from our end?

For the spiritual life has less to do with accumulating than it does with stripping. When Jesus tells us, in chapter seven of Matthew’s gospel, to listen and act upon his word, he is referring to the things he has been saying earlier, in chapters five and following. He is referring to the Sermon on the Mount. And we know how the Sermon begins: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven… Is it any coincidence then that the first reading speaks to us about trusting in the God who brings down the lofty city, allowing it to be trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor? To enter the Father’s House, to do the Father’s will, to keep Jesus’ word, to set our houses on solid rock, involves submitting ourselves to a process of stripping, a process whereby we gradually learn to trust, above all else, in God the eternal Rock.

How are we being invited to submit ourselves more fully to the process today?

No comments:

Post a Comment