Our Advent Building Project, 1st Thursday of Advent, December 1, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Thursday of the First Week of Advent
December 1, 2016
Is 26:1-6, Ps 118, Mt 7:21.24-27

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Throughout the Advent Season, we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” “O Come, Divine Messiah!,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and these are all good aspirations, but the Church, which selects the Gospel passages throughout this first week of Advent very well to help us learn the proper dispositions to enter into the meaning of this season and get off to a good start in this new liturgical year, helps us to focus that it’s by no means enough for us to stop there. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to us very clearly, “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.” It’s not enough for us to bid the Lord to come, but we need to build out life on him as he comes. “The Lord is an eternal Rock,” Isaiah tells us today. The Psalm adds, “The Lord is God and he has given us light.” The Lord is the solid, stable, unchanging foundation for life, the God who not only is “Light from Light,” but shares that light with us so that we may walk as children of light. Isaiah will tell us on Christmas night that the “people walking in darkness have seen a great light,” and that light is the Lord. Our Advent construction project is to build our life on that rock.
  • Jesus gives us an image today, taken from his conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, about how we’re supposed to live what he teaches. ““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.” That’s what our response is supposed to be to Jesus’ triple coming: to build our life on his taking on our humanity so that we may share in his divinity; to construct our existence on Him in the present, especially in the source and summit, the root and center of Christian life which is the Eucharist; and to ground our hopes, aspirations and daily choices in the guarantee of his second coming and to live, as we’re reminded to live each Advent, vigilant and alert each day for his return. Not everyone lives this way. Many are foolish. Many of us are foolish, because we hear his Word, we may even be able to cite chapter and verse, but we don’t act on it. Jesus says, “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 true Advent response is Mary’s, which in response to the Archangel Gabriel’s words said, “Behold I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be done to me according to your Word!”
  • To build our whole existence on Jesus requires great trust, because Jesus’ words are different than the world’s. We see this clearly in the Beatitudes which began the Sermon on the Mount. Whereas the world thinks you need to be rich to be fulfilled Jesus says we need to be poor; whereas the world says you have to be popular and congenial, Jesus says we need to be persecuted for his sake; whereas the world says you need to be powerful, Jesus says we need to be meek peacemakers; whereas the world says we need to have all our sexual fantasies fulfilled, Jesus responds we need to be pure of heart; whereas the world says we need to have all our appetites satiated, Jesus says we need to hunger and thirst for holiness. Which is it for us? Are we building our lives on Jesus’ words or on the words of others?  We’re tempted to construct our life on what everyone else is doing, or on our whims, or to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain. It’s hard to build on Jesus when he challenges us to trust. Nevertheless God encourages us to do so today. “Trust in the Lord forever!,” God calls us through Isaiah. “A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.” The Psalm says, “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.” This is true and Advent is a season for us to act on it.
  • For those of us in the priesthood and in religious life, there’s a special call for us to go more deeply into today’s passage. In some sense, by the choice we have made in response to the Lord’s call, we have in fact determined to build our life on Christ. By our chastity, we build our life on his love; by our obedience, we build our life on his will; by our poverty, we build our existence on the treasure of his kingdom. But sometimes we can build only partially on his command, “Follow me!” We can build ourselves on “most of his word,” or his “main message,” but occasionally not take advantage of the words of his that are too difficult or seem too good to be true. We don’t build our life on his word that whatever we ask God the Father in his Son’s name, the Father will hear. We don’t build our life on his word to take up daily our Cross and follow him. We don’t take up his word to forgive and love even our enemies, to forgive 70 times 7 times, to wash the feet of others, or to become like a grain of wheat. Today at the beginning of Advent, the Church wants us to turn to Jesus and ask him for the grace to build an even more solid foundation on him by really grounding ourselves in those part of his Gospel that are easiest for us to hear but not live.
  • God gives us a daily opportunity to build ourselves on him at the Mass. In the Liturgy of the Word, God wants us to ground ourselves anew on the rock of God’s word, provided that we try to live the word we hear rather than merely say in response to it “Thanks be to God” and “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” We’re called, like Mary, to respond, “Let it be done to me according to your word!” Then we come to the liturgy of the Eucharist and have the chance to construct our life on this gift, on Christ himself, so that he can shine his light from the inside out of us. Then we have the chance, in communion with him, to build our life on the words of his great commission, to go in peace, glorifying the Lord with our life. May we respond to this great privilege and build ourselves firmly on Christ with trust so that no matter what storms come, we will be set firmly on Christ so that we might come to experience eternal tranquility in the house that God has build in heaven for all his beloved children.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 IS 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 PS 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. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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 savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia IS 55:6

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

Gospel MT 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.”
house-on-rock-2