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Thursday of the First Week of Advent with Megan McElroy OP
Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7: 21, 24-27
December 1, 2022

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Any civil engineer or architect will give the same advice as Jesus – build on solid ground, not on shifting sand. As sound as such advice is, and as much as Jesus was trained in the ways of a carpenter, he was not literally talking about building houses. He was talking about building one’s foundation of faith.

We are in a time when it feels like we live on tectonic plates where everything is shifting below and around us – democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of collapse, the economy is chaotic, the church is divided, whole communities are at risk of disappearing due to climate change. I have to admit that even my own faith since COVID feels at times like its hanging by a thread. What are we to do?

The answer seems obvious and sound! Jesus says, “listen to these words of mine and act on them.” Isaiah tells us in the first reading, “Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock!” Just place our trust in the Lord who loves us, who seeks only our good, who desires to protect us with mercy and compassion and then for us to live out of this knowledge.

Again, that’s easier said than done. Our egos tend to get in the way: we want the better views that a house built on sand can give us, we want the easy way, the fast track. We think, “If only the Lord listened to our words and responded the way we want God to, then all would be right with the world and our faith would be strong.” But that’s not what faithful disciples are called to. It’s the other way around – for us to listen to Jesus and respond the way he wants us to.

I occasionally read from a daily meditation book entitled Trust Jesus. Today’s passage was particularly poignant for us in light of our readings: “The ultimate protection against sinking during life’s storms is devoting time to develop your friendship with me [Jesus].”

Now there is sound and obvious advice! How many of us turn to our friends, family, or community when life throws us curveballs, when we are in need, hurt, ill, or scared? Are they not the ones who hold us up in such difficult moments like the beams of a house support its walls and roof? Does it not make sense, then, that we would turn to our True and Best of Friends?

The Advent season gives us the opportunity to build on solid ground, to build our houses – our lives – our friendship with Jesus by spending time with him, listening to him, leaning on him, learning to live like him, so that we in turn might become a firm foundation of light and truth, justice and peace, for others whose faith might be faltering. And when we feel we can’t do it, we don’t have the energy, we don’t have enough faith, then we turn to those who do – to the people around us, to the community, who are the support beams who hold us up in our time of need. For we are not asked to walk this journey of faith alone. In fact, God intends that we make the journey together with others, discovering Christ there in our midst. When we do, then we will find that we have become a transformed nation – a community – of firm purpose for its trust in the Lord. Such is what the Incarnation is all about.

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