03Dec Thursday in the 1st Week of Advent

1st Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6

A hymn of confidence in the Lord God, our everlasting rock

On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; he sets up victory like walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace — in peace because they trust in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height; the lofty city he lays low. He lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.

Responsorial: Psalm 117: 1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27

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

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good
for his love has no end.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in men.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes. (R./)

Open to me the gates of holiness:
I will enter and give thanks.
This is the Lord’s own gate
where the just may enter
I will thank you for you have given answer
and you are my saviour. (R./)

O Lord, grant us salvation;
O Lord, grant success.
Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
the Lord God is our light. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount: A wise man builds his house on rock

And Jesus said to them, “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 then who hears 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 beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!”

BIBLE

A mighty fortress

Today’s readings make a thought-provoking contrast. In Isaiah it is God who builds our city, setting up its walls and ramparts to protect it; in the Gospel it is we who build our own house solidly, setting it on rock. While Isaiah summons into the new city all who trust in the Lord, Matthew has Jesus promise salvation to the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  The prophetic text emphasises faith while the Gospel stresses action! There is a line in the passage from Isaiah to harmonise these divergent views : “Our Lord is an eternal rock.”

Insistence upon trust in the Lord is a continuous theme with Isaiah. Today he says: Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal rock. The Lord will surround us who have faith as he does the holy city with “walls and ramparts. ” And the Lord himself is that city. He is the rock which sustains us. He is the Holy One, enshrined within us. There is a clash of images here! It means that the Lord is behind and before us, around about us and within us, supporting us from beneath, glorifying us from above.

Withstanding storms

We can identify with the weather image in today’s gospel, “Rains came down, floods rose, gales blew.” Familiar, isn’t it? Apart from weather-storms, we can also be struck by storms of a different kind, in our health, our family, our finances or our career. The church has been through quite a storm in recent years, and the effects are still felt. As individuals, we can find ourselves battling against the problems that life throws up for us.

Jesus warns that difficult times will indeed come for all of us. The issue is how we deal with them. When the storms come will we be able to withstand them and move through and beyond them? Jesus is our rock when the storm comes. If we listen to his words and try to follow him we will survive any danger that threatens us. Jesus brings us back to basics, the doing of God’s will as he has revealed it for us. If we keep on returning to that focal point, the Lord will see to it that we endure, regardless of the strength of the storm.



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