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Hear, Act, and Trust
Thursday of the First Week of Advent
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.”
Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, help me to hear your word. Plant it deep in my heart so that it takes root and grows up to bear good fruits for your glory.
- Lip Service: Those who say “Lord, Lord” but do not align their actions with God’s will only pay lip service to Christ. Some might profess to be Christian, for example, but not act in a Christian way. Or they might pray to ask for God’s guidance but then not follow up and act in accordance with what they have discerned to be God’s will for them. We can ask ourselves in what way we have paid lip service to Christ instead of aligning our actions with our words. Are we truly living our faith in an authentic way? Practicing obedience to God counteracts a habit of paying lip service because it requires listening to God and then doing what he asks of us instead of doing what we want to do. “Blessed indeed are the obedient, for God will never permit them to go astray” (St. Francis de Sales).
- Listen and Act: This Gospel directs us to hear Jesus’ word of truth and respond with genuine action. St. James exhorts us to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). First, we must hear the word and then allow it to penetrate our hearts in order to respond to it. Before we hear the Gospel proclaimed at Mass, we trace a cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts. This should remind us to listen to the word intently, consider it with our minds (forehead), and let it seep down like water into our hearts (heart) so that we can sincerely proclaim and profess the Gospel in our daily lives (lips).
- Self-Deception: Take a moment to imagine a house built on sand and how it would look after a storm. Those who deceive themselves by paying lip service to Christ are building their houses on sand. When the storms of life come, they will be blown around with no rock of security to hold onto. They will be shaken and have no peace. They trust only in themselves. Conversely, those who hear the word and act in accordance with it are wise and dwell in security: “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). They place their trust in the Lord and so can have peace, even amid a storm.
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, I adore and praise you because you are the word of truth. I’m sorry for the times that I hear what you want me to do but do not take prompt action. I’m also sorry for the times when I have merely paid lip service to my faith and not fully trusted in God the Father’s holy will. I give you thanks for the opportunity you have given me to cooperate with your grace by being an instrument of God’s will in the world. Please help me to actively hear your word and allow it to grow in my heart in order to bear the good fruit of works of mercy and charity.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will prayerfully discern what your will for me and make a plan to carry it out.
For Further Reflection: Here is a video from Ascension Presents: Do All Good People Go To Heaven?
Written by Carey Boyzuck.