December 1, 2011
Thursday of the First Week of Advent
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Listen to the podcast version here.
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
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come before you in humility and
with a spirit of hope. You no doubt have something
to tell me. I approach you in prayer, confident of
your love and trustful of your grace to enable me
to carry out whatever you ask. I offer this prayer
for those in my family who might be far away
Petition: Lord, help me deepen my life of faith
and charity, to better prepare for the trials ahead.
Façade: It is easy to address Jesus as "Lord, Lord."
After all, we know by faith that he is the
Son of God. His miracles and the endurance of his
Church attest to his divine nature. Yet, our recognition of
his divinity isn’t enough. Our admission that "Jesus is my
savior" won’t guarantee us a place in heaven. Faith in
Christ can’t just remain on our lips; it must penetrate
our hearts and minds as well. Faith, then, implies doing
the will of God the Father – in thoughts, words
and deeds. How does my faith in Christ translate into
acts? Am I satisfied with saying a few prayers, and
2. Out of Sight: Christ exhorts his disciples to
build their faith on rock, not on sentimentality. To dig
a solid foundation of faith takes hard work. It demands
constancy in prayer, charity and generosity. It also requires humility
and purity of intention, since the work of preparing a
foundation is not glamorous. There’s nothing particularly beautiful about a
big hole in the ground at a construction site. So
it is in the spiritual life, too; digging a foundation
forces us to go deep, to remove our worst faults.
The process isn’t pretty. It forces us to face our
vices honestly and to rip away the mask we might
wear in front of others. Without this step we risk
building our lives on sand. How well am I digging
3. Too Late: Foundations seem firm when all is
calm. Fair weather doesn’t test the strength of a building.
The real test comes when the climate turns nasty. The
same occurs in the spiritual life. When serenity reigns around
us, peace blossoms effortlessly. But when a crisis befalls us
– a rejection, an illness, a bit of opposition over
a moral matter – that’s when we learn the sturdiness
of our faith. Peter, who boasted that he would stand
by Our Lord "though all may have their faith in
you shaken" (Matthew 26:33), learned the hard way that his
courage wasn’t what he thought it was. He abandoned Christ
in the garden of Gethsemane, as did all the apostles.
How well do I face ordinary temptations and setbacks? How
well could I face a serious crisis?
Conversation with Christ: Lord,
I fear sometimes that I’m not much better than Peter,
who bragged that he would stand by you, but then
fled when the guards arrested you on Holy Thursday night.
I want to be a true Christian witness in the
world, but I need your help to overcome my human
respect and laziness.
Resolution: I will do one external act of
witness to the faith.