Intention: That the start of this Advent will herald for us a time of prayer and conversion as we return our hearts and our lives to the work of building God’s Kingdom of peace, justice, and love.
Today’s 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.”
A Reflection for the First Thursday of Advent
The celebration of Advent and its culmination on Christmas Day are filled with some of the most beautiful and moving rituals in all of Christianity. They invite us to experience deeply and reverently the story of the birth of our Savior. However, as we do so, it should be while keeping one caution in mind. It is possible to become lost in the richness of our Advent traditions to the extent that we forget that they always are pointing to something more. The form of our worship should not be confused with its aim, which is to join Christ in the purpose and activity of his life. Perhaps that is why he once quoted to his disciples these words of the prophet Hosea: “For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” In other words, kneeling in front of the manger must then lead to walking with Jesus onto the path of doing God’s will. The time of Advent is certainly a time for worship, but it is especially a time for kenosis, for emptying ourselves in the work of building God’s Kingdom.
Eternal Father, sometimes we can confuse having faith with living faith. You sent to us your son Jesus not just so that we would revere him, but also that we would make as our own his mission. It is to build your Kingdom and free our world from the captivity of sin that the miracle of Christmas calls us. Fill our hearts with a passion for your will that will fire within us a zeal for discipleship. May this Advent be for us a time not only of joy and awe, but also of peace and justice. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.