Reflections

Thursday in the 1st Week of Advent, December 5, 2019

GOD, The Solid Rock On Which We Stand
Introduction
The first reading comes from an insert in Isaiah that was written in a later period. It speaks of God’s judgment and the victory of God over “cities” of sin. But Jerusalem, God’s community, God’s city, will stand. Those faithful to God can rely on him: he is faithful and solid as a rock.
Those who accept the call and challenge of Jesus’ words by living as his disciples are building on rock. This is true both for the individual disciple and for the community of the Church.

1 Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah: “A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.” Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.

Responsorial Psalm: 118:1 AND 8-9, 19-21, 25-27A
R. (26a) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes. R.

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my saviour. R.

O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light. R.

Alleluia: Isaiah 55:6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call him while he is near.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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.”

Commentary
When Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, it brought more than one truth to light. It showed the face of poverty in many people’s fragile homes and living conditions. In addition, to many people of other nations, it showed how inadequately the world’s richest country had provided for its most helpless. A similar impression was created in France a short time later when a rash of rioting and burning pointed up the frustrations of an ethnically diverse population. In many countries of Africa, Nigeria especially, our own tempest, our consistent disheartening tsunami is our political leaders.
Today the scriptures speak of faith, using the image of structures. They also reveal the true religious spirit so often found in the world’s poorest, the “have nots” of society. The house that withstands a ferocious storm is one built on a firm foundation, whereas homes built on shifting sands will not survive. Here the translation to faith is an easy one to make. People solidly rooted in faith are aware of God’s place in their lives—lives committed to the understanding of sacred truth and growth in appreciation of that truth.
On the other hand, the “fair weather” Christian sees faith as a convention, a form of identification, an interesting tradition. There is very little cost to discipleship. It is a faith of shifting sands, a perishable house.
Why are the poor so privileged in the Bible? Doesn’t experience show us that they are the people who suffer the most in life? Yet they stand out as the examples of trust. Not blinded by riches and worldly competition, the Lord remains their lot in life, and it is God who commits them to our care. Isaiah says that God humbles those who occupy high places. It is the poor who are ultimately lifted up. So often our experience brings us up against those who have so little and yet believe so deeply. The poor have much to teach us.
As the psalmist says today, “Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”

Blessing
Build your house on rock. Build your life on the Lord and the Gospel and you will never be disappointed, for God loves you and stays with you. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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