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 Short Reflection for the First Thursday of Advent
The season 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, when we do so, it should be while keeping one caution in mind. It is possible to become lost in the familiarity and comfort of our Advent traditions to such an extent that we forget that they always are pointing to something more. The ultimate purpose of ritual is to bring us as participants into to the reality that they represent. Perhaps Jesus had this in mind when he quoted to his disciples words from 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. Prayer and worship are never ends in themselves but, like all actions in a relationship, are ways of moving more deeply into shared identity and living. The time of Advent is certainly a time for reverence and celebration, but it is especially a time for metanoia, for embracing the gift of our redemption and turning ourselves again and again to 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.