IS 26: 1-6
PS 118: 1 AND 8-9, 19-21, 25-27A
MT 7: 21, 24-27
Today’s gospel is a call to action. When I read it my first thought was, 'why is this gospel showing up in Advent?' Advent is a time for reflection, a time of hopeful waiting and joyful anticipation. But it is also about preparing. The preparations we are called to in today’s readings have little to do with lights, cookies, parties and presents. These readings pose the question, 'What are you preparing for? What life are you preparing to live?'
Jesus makes it perfectly clear that we are not only to speak our faith, we are called to live it, to embody a faith that does justice. Jesus asks for more than commemoration: he asks for our active participation!
“Whoever hears these words and acts on them will be like the wise man/woman who built their house on a rock”. What are “these words”? The verses we read today are the conclusion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. These chapters in Matthew’s gospel encapsulate the central tenets of Christianity: the Beatitudes; how to pray; Love your enemies; Live simply – do not worry; Do not judge others; True discipleship.
These words inspire us. It is easy to speak of their beauty and eloquence. To return to our opening question are you preparing to live these teachings? Does it make it on to your to-do list? Is it part of your Advent preparations? Is it part of your five-year plan?
Perhaps the question is not 'what?' but 'how?' When I consider this question I like to think about Mary, our spiritual mother. She is not only the woman who became the mother of Jesus, and brought the first Advent into our history, she is a perfect model of how to be an active agent cooperating with God. She full-heartedly, freely, agreed with her YES to God’s plan and through this partnership she gave birth to a baby, Jesus. First through her faith, then through her flesh.
Her model of discipleship doesn’t end in the manger either. She continued participating as a faithful partner in God’s plan through all the events of Jesus' life: from birth, to parenting, through his early years to his first miracle, from his ministry to his death upon the Cross. Mary is a great model for this season of Advent. She reminds us that it starts with a yes.
So with God's grace, inspired by Mary, let us commit to saying "YES".
Vitina Pestello is the Program Coordinator for the Faith and Justice Collaborative.