First Thursday of Advent: Faith in Action

First Thursday of Advent: Faith in Action

Mont St. Michel
In today’s Gospel (Mt 7:21,24-27) Our Lord ends the great Sermon on the Mount with a call to arms, a call to action.  We are to do the will of our heavenly Father if we would enter the Kingdom of heaven. Simply hearing the words of God is not enough. Likewise, merely uttering praises to God is inadequate.  

But what sort of action is Jesus proposing? It may seem surprising that of all the possible analogies that Jesus might speak of, He refers to housebuilding: we are to emulate the “wise man who built his house upon the rock”, and not the “foolish man who built his house upon the sand”.  Why might Jesus use this example? Aside from powerfully illustrating His point, it may be that Our Lord was seeking to draw upon the dramatic rebuilding of the Temple, i.e. God’s House, which was being undertaken at that time in Jerusalem. More profoundly, St. Thomas Aquinas suggests that Jesus was referring to a different Temple which was about to be built: the Catholic Church. And if we are to take the Church as the Temple, the foundation is Christ Himself for as St. Paul says, “they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4).  So Jesus is calling us to action which is rooted in Him, who is love. We must not only hear Jesus’s words but we must act upon them for “faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

What are we ‘building’ today? What actions, founded in our loving God, are we undertaking? In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis urges us to evangelise, “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” [para. 8]. Later, he reminds us of our obligations to the poor: “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid.” [para. 187]. In these timely examples, Pope Francis challenges us to act on the message of the Gospel; our place in heaven may depend on it.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis

Samuel Burke OP

Fr Samuel Burke is based in St Albert the Great in Edinburgh, where he serves as a university chaplain.

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