First Thursday of Advent
Reflection by Bob O’Conner, Ph.D. (Theology Department)
The link between today’s 1st reading and the gospel appears to hinge upon the word “rock.” In the first instance, Isaiah describes the Lord as “an eternal Rock” signifying power, stability, and endurance. The Lord accomplishes the unthinkable—the redressing of inequities that accompany the maldistribution of wealth, goods, and power. Isaiah reminds us that peace which we all seek is the result of justice which is not quite so popular an idea, especially for those who may benefit from the injustice.
The prophet reminds his audience that no matter how hopeless the situation appears to be, no matter how unstable the ground, no matter how threatening the authorities may “lord it over” people, no matter how devastating the oppression of bureaucracy, justice will triumph and that triumph will come from the Lord rather than any human agency. Believing these prophetic words would certainly engender hope for those who “call upon the name of the Lord.”
The gospel reminds us that “talking the talk” is insufficient; “walking the walk” is the key to those who “enter the kingdom of heaven.” This sentiment is echoed later in the gospel with the concluding parable regarding those who gave food to the hungry not for a self-interested reward (“when did we see you hungry and give you to eat?”) but simply because the hungry were in need.
Lastly, the values by which we consistently orient our lives (how we behave “when no one is looking”) is the “rock” upon which the man built his house. In contrast is our behavior guided by peer pressure or convenience and which might be seen as the “sand” which will shift and ultimately cause the house to collapse.
As we approach the end of the semester it may be useful to reflect for a moment on whether we are building our lives on a rock or sand.