12.7.17 Wed. Advent – wk 1 – (II)
1st Rdg Isaiah 26: 1 – 6
Gospel Matthew 7: 21, 24 – 27
†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.
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy What Are You Built Upon?
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them…builds his house on rock.” (Matt.7:24) Who are those who build there lives on the solid foundation of God’s Word? Those who listen to God’s son and to act on those words Those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
This past summer we witnessed the devastation from natural disasters over the western hemisphere, from earthquakes, to hurricanes. Structures with poor foundations collapsed in those areas. In Mexico City, many of those structures built before 1985 collapsed or were heavily damaged. Those buildings constructed after the large earthquake in 1985, survived because of new building codes. They had been built on a more solid footing. If the world can so easily destroy these things, our lives too, can be damaged when we are not firmly grounded on the rock of God’s Word and His will?
Pope Francis writes this: “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others…God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of His love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades away.” (Open Your Heart: Reflections for Advent; All Saints Press, 2017; p.7) This is not what †Jesus wants for us. The Lord wants us to be holy as His Father is holy. As long as we build our life on worldly things, making those things the focus of our life, we will be on really shaky ground. And when our lives seem to be battered from storms coming from all directions, leading us from discouragement to a lack of trust in God, we should ask ourselves this question: “Whose will am I centered on anyway?”
As we journey through Advent it is a time to restore the foundation that was laid in our lives at Baptism; a foundation that is retrofitted daily, by the sacraments we receive through the grace of the Holy Spirit. That’s what the sacraments do for us, that’s what Grace does; it retrofits that structure that gets weakened as we go through our lives. That’s the great power of the Sacraments. But the firm foundation begins to crumble, it begins to show signs of wear when we turn in on our self; when obedience to God, which rebuilds with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, is ignored. Pope Francis again offers us an invitation: “I invite all Christians, everywhere this Advent to a renewed personal encounter with †Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting Him encounter them.” (ibid) You see, †Jesus is knocking at the door, we may not know how to encounter God, but †Jesus does. We just need to open our hearts to receive Him.” To live by the light of the world is to live in darkness. To live by the secular world is to allow others to determine our self-worth. And in this world, we tend to live for power or pleasure, for popularity or comfort, and when we do – we begin to behave in self-centered ways; this is building on a foundation of sand.
Father Henry Nouwen wrote: “As long as we are in the clutches of that world, we live in darkness since we do not know our true self. We cling to our ego-self, in the hope that – maybe more success, more praise, more satisfaction will give us the experience of being loved which we all crave.” (Waiting for God: Advent Reflection and Prayer with Henri J.M. Nouwen; All Saints Press, 2013; p.7) What can keep us from the false-self and spiritual disaster? If we make †Jesus and His Word the foundation of our lives, then nothing can shake us or keep us from God’s love and protection. Because, you see, the love we are looking for has already been given to us, it has already been poured into us. And we can experience that love if we live our true-self.
Thomas Merton once wrote: “The true-self is this conviction – I am one who is loved by Christ.” “I am one who is loved by Christ.” That is our true-self. If we truly believe that, and we truly live out of that conviction, we would not be seeking love and gratification elsewhere. It only comes through †Jesus and His Word and doing the Will of God.
Today’s Gospel is part of the Sermon on the Mount, where †Jesus taught the Beatitudes, as well. The Beatitudes are the way of selfless love. They are Christ’s way of selfless love and when we become people of the Beatitudes, we build on a firm foundation, we build on a Christ-like love, a sacrificial love, and nothing on earth will bring us down.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.