Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name Of The Lord!

First 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

R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

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.

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.

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.


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.”

+++ +++ +++ +++

St John Chrysostom remarked that it was as much trouble to build a house on sand as on rock: “Even those who follow a wicked path have to sweat in labor.” Robbers and criminals of all kinds, he said, give themselves a very hard life – ultimately for nothing. When the crunch comes they discover they have nothing. “In referring to rain, floods and winds Jesus is speaking about all those human circumstances and misfortunes, such as false accusations, plots, bereavements, deaths, loss of family members, insults from others, and all the horrid things in life about which one could speak.” He seems to be saying that an immoral life is a mistake; that it shows poor judgment. Normally the moral life comes wrapped in multiple layers of ‘ought’. We are told what we ought to be, what we ought to do, what we ought to become; and of course what we ought not to be or do or become. We have heard so many ‘oughts’ in the course of our life, from earliest childhood to the present day, that we may well have developed a selective deafness to it. If so, then it is striking to hear it expressed for once without the use of ‘ought’.

What is the difference between rock and sand? Are they not made of the same stuff? Yes, but a rock is a single consistent thing, while sand is a billion tiny rocks that have no connection with one another. They are like words that pour away, this way and that, according to the way the wind is blowing. A rock is the very symbol of stability, consistency, concreteness.... Stability: not to be blown around by every wind of opinion, every passing enthusiasm, every fashion.... Consistency: not to try and get by with clever words alone, but to have the weight of one’s life behind each word we speak – so much so, and so habitually, that quite often no words are necessary at all. Concreteness: not to evade issues, but to face what lies before us, even if it threatens to try us sorely or defeat us.

The Father, Jesus said, “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous (Mt 5:45). With the same impartiality he also sends storms, floods, and disasters...! When “the rain falls, the floods come and the winds blow,” they will test everyone alike. God doesn't protect his ‘favorites’ from disaster. We will all have the same challenges, but if our house is built on rock we will be able to withstand them. It is highly dangerous to build our life on the sand of words. We can take John Chrysostom’s word for it that it just doesn't work.

Donagh O’Shea, O.P

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