Thursday of the First Week in ADVENT

Is 26:1-6; Ps 118:1,8,9,19-21,25-27a; Mt 7:21,24-27:  In Psalm 116 we pray, “I trusted even when I said, ‘I am sorely afflicted,’ and when I said in my alarm, ‘there is no man I can trust’” Betrayal, malicious or unintended, is the most painful human experience.  The Lord Jesus knew this disappointment among his closest friends.  He knew that the human heart is torturous above all else. Yet, he chose and befriended Judas Iscariot.  He washed his feet around the table of the Last Supper, and he even shared with him a morsel of the Eucharist.  Still, the Apostle Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus.  Indeed, the Lord learned from his experience the pain of a trust broken. Indeed, the Lord Jesus knew what he prayed in Psalm 118, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”  This lesson we still must learn.  We are slow to open the gates of justice to enter them and give thanks to the LORD. We hesitate to give thanks to the LORD who has answered our desperate cries, the LORD who has been and continues to be our Savior.  He alone grants salvation.  He alone grants prosperity.  Indeed, we sing in every Sanctus, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” Indeed as the Prophet preaches, the LORD is an eternal rock and in the light of faith we build our lives on his truth and his love.  Saint Matthew confirms this preaching when he teaches that affirming our faith is not enough, we must build our life upon the rock that is Christ.  If we build on any other foundation, the rains will fall; the floods will come.  The winds will blow and buffet our house, and it will collapse and be completely ruined.

On what day will they sing in the land of Judah?  On the Day of the LORD they will sing about the strength of the city of the LORD, the strong city, the walled city, the city with ramparts.  These images of security work for an ancient people who have yet to experience the vulnerability of an unexpected air attack. They express the protection of the Lord for a people who have yet to discover chemical weapons and Internet viruses. The prophet may never have imagined such dangers, but still he calls us to trust the LORD forever.  To trust the LORD means that ultimately, no matter what happens, God is our eternal Rock.  We can survive any aggression and any aggressor.  Not only do we survive we triumph because our relationship with God is the most important reality in our lives.  His love is everlasting.  Hidden in that love we watch the unfolding of history.  We watch those in high places, those lofty cities are brought down; the LORD tumbles them to the ground; he levels them to the dust.  Indeed, they are trampled underfoot by the needy, the footsteps of the poor.  Such reversals, public and private, reveal the power of God still at work between the lines and in the crooked lines of our history.

If we are wise, we will built our house upon a rock.  It’s not enough just to call out to the Lord in prayer; our prayer life must transform our whole life into the bright light of the Gospel for all to see.  The moving sands of public opinion cannot provide a firm foundation for any individual Christian to build upon.  Indeed, the heavy rains, flash floods, and hurricane winds will buffet these insecure houses; they will collapse and be ruined. All leaders of the Church at every time in history and every member of the Church must learn from the bright visions of our Advent Prophet and the wisdom of Our Lord’s stories.