Thursday of 1st Week of Advent
Jesus doesn’t pull any punches in today’s Gospel. Right off the bat, he tells us that knowing the right prayer formula – saying “Lord, Lord” for instance – isn’t going to get you anywhere with him. What is required is serious obedience – doing what his Father wills.
And then the Church assigns this Gospel to the first week of Advent because Jesus’ words are not incidental additions to our life. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. The disciple will be like the smart carpenter in the parable, using the season of Advent to build the kind of house in which the Lord will feel right at home when he comes at Christmas.
Jesus is very clear about the kind of building material he likes: it is doing the will of his Father in heaven by listening to the words of Jesus as a kind of master plan, and then acting on them. Listening and then acting is like selecting a stone for your house and then setting it in its place; it’s like doing lectio or spiritual reading and then putting into practice what you’ve read. The stone is meant to build up your interior house; the words of Jesus are meant to be acted upon.
The smart carpenter is like the one that keeps faith in the first reading, whose purpose is firm because he follows the Master’s plan for each particular stone until it is firmly set in its place in the house. But if we start making adjustments to the plan instead of to our life, then we’re like the stupid carpenter in the parable. When a spiritual crisis comes, when a storm rolls in and the waves come up, we will have nothing to fall back on, nothing to hold our house together, and it will collapse like a house of cards.
During this Advent season, the Church invites us to build in such a way that Jesus can feel at home in us. His kind of house is built on solid rock. Its foundation stones are the words of scripture, along with whatever will really build up our interior house. The idea is to follow the Master plan of the Father for each one of us, so that we can present a home for Jesus when he comes.
During this life, he will test the quality of our building. Rains will pour down and hurl themselves against our house. But if we have stuck to the master plan and built a life on Jesus’ words, then he will feel at home in us. And when he comes on the last day, we will discover that what we have built is, by the grace of God, our mansion in heaven.