Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, December 1, 2016 — “Only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven will enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Thursday of the First Week in Advent
Lectionary: 178

Reunion at the Gates of Heaven by Naomi Van Doren

Reading 1 IS 26:1-6

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you.”

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

Responsorial Psalm PS 118:1 AND 8-9, 19-21, 25-27A

R. (26a) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia IS 55:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call him while he is near.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 7:21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples:
“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 who listens to 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 buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

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Commentary on Matthew 7:21, 24-27 From Living Space
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Today’s Gospel reading reminds us of what true discipleship means. People often confess that they have not said their morning and evening prayers or that they have not been to Mass. Perhaps they should remember the words of today’s Gospel: “It is not those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, who will enter the kingdom of heaven…”
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On the other hand, those of us who always do say our morning and evening prayers and never miss a Mass also need to remember them. Something more is needed than just being a pray-er. What is needed is that we “do the will of the Father”.
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What is that will? It is that we be filled with the spirit of the Kingdom and work to make that Kingdom a reality in our world. It involves constant outreach beyond ourselves. We have to go to God by finding him present in the world around us and helping others to be aware of that loving presence also. We will not do that by piously calling on God’s name while ignoring the needs of our brothers and sisters. To do that is to build our house on sand.
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That is not to say that prayer is not important. We cannot effectively do God’s work unless we spend time listening to and responding to his Word in times of undisturbed quiet. But our prayer is only genuine when it becomes the spur for us to go out and bring something of God’s love and compassion into our world.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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01 DECEMBER 2016, Thursday, 1st Week of Advent
WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR LIFE?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 26:1-6; MT 7:21.24-27  ]

It is obvious to anyone who wants to build a house that he must ensure that the building has a good foundation, whether with respect to the soil or the pillars on which everything is built. Without laying a good foundation, as Jesus says in the gospel, when “rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!”  When it comes to laying down a good foundation, there cannot be any let up; otherwise the price to pay will be heavy, not just in monetary or material terms but even at the cost of lives.

If this is true for physical buildings, what about the human person?  Why is it that many do not take seriously the need to ensure that their lives have good foundation.  Many people get married and have children.  But have they carefully given thought to the kind of foundation they want their marriage to be built on, or that of their family life, particularly in the way they raise their children?  The truth is that many couples enter into marriage without agreeing on the kind of foundation they intend to build their relationship on.  They do not even have time to really speak about the things that really matter to their hearts and to their lives together as a couple.

This is equally true with respect to the raising of children.  Isn’t it true that many couples have no real idea what it takes to raise up holistic and integrated children?  All they are concerned about is that they do well in life, which is reduced to giving them a good academic education, getting good results and performing well in sports and the arts.   But have they given thought to the importance of forming their character, inculcating them with good and lasting values?  How could they, if the parents themselves are lacking in moral values, when all they care about are the values of this world: success, riches, fame and status?  If only parents know that what they say and do will affect their children, then they will think twice before they say or do anything, whether in their interpersonal relationships or the way they relate with their children.  Many of us today are deeply wounded and broken, suffering from low self-esteem, insecurity, and failure in relationships because we are not capable of love, as we have never received unconditional love and forgiveness from those who were supposed to be our mentors, tutors, models and exemplars.

Hence, we must reflect carefully the kind of foundation we are building our lives and that of our children’s on.   If the foundation is built only on this world, then we are building on sand, because like sand, the world is unstable, unpredictable and illusory.  Even if one becomes rich, successful and achieves status in life, the heart remains empty, especially when one’s personal life is a failure with regard to relationships. In vain are all our successes when we have no one to share our life and joy with because we are estranged from our spouse, misunderstood by our parents, marginalized by our siblings, treated with hostility by our colleagues and stressed out by jealousy and competition in the office.   Worse still, if because of the lack of ethical values, we fall into debt, are addicted to drugs, drink and gambling and live a wanton and promiscuous life.

Alas, history will repeat itself.  If we are so broken, our children will only mimic us.  That is why the bible warns us, “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 20:5; Dt 5:9)  The effects of our sins will continue to affect them.  Although we cannot pass down our personal sins to others, we can affect them negatively because of the wounds we inflict on them and the negative values and lifestyles they imbibe from us.  That is why sin is a vicious cycle, which is one of the meanings of Original Sin.

So if we want to build a lasting future for ourselves, and this is what the scripture readings at Advent are exhorting us, then let us, at the very start of Advent, lay down the right foundation for ourselves, our family and society.  If society today is so divided and confused, it is because when there is no strong leadership in morality, then all those with compromised values will begin to exert their influence on the world.  This is true in every aspect of life.  If an organization is divided, it is always the consequence of a lack of strong leadership.  When there is no strong leader to provide the vision for the people, then those with smaller visions will impose theirs on others, resulting in disunity and division.

Our position as Christians is clear.  Only God can provide us with the absolute and lasting values.  Man cannot, because he is neither absolute nor lasting.  The scriptures call God, the Rock, for the simple reason that rock stands for stability, strength and durability.  The Prophet says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is the everlasting Rock.”  Jesus in the same vein tells us to build our house on solid rock.  Jesus of course is the rock and that was why He told Peter that He would build the Church on the rock of his faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (Mt 16:16)  If we build our house on Him, then He will bring “low those who lived high up in the steep citadel; brings it down, brings it down to the ground, flings it down in the dust: the feet of the lowly, the footsteps of the poor trample on it.”  Such a house can withstand rain, floods, gales and all the storms of life, and it will not fall as it is built on rock.  Indeed, only a life that is founded on the love of God, His wisdom and His love, is secure against all forms of disasters and suffering. 

For those of who do not put God as the center of their lives, their ignorance and folly will cause them to suffer not just in this life but in the life hereafter.  Preferring to trust in themselves, their pride will destroy them.  Indeed, the psalmist urges us, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Why must we wait to meet disaster before we turn to Him?  Why are we not awakened from our blindness to the truly important matters in life?

If we want to take the right step in providing for our future and that of those under our care, then we must avoid taking short cuts, as this is a slippery path to self-destruction.  This was what the man did in building his house on the sand.  One does not need much effort to build such a house.  If we cheat in our exams, we will soon be caught out because the time will come when our inadequacies will show up at work.  If we pursue success without hard work, gamble and speculate in the stock market in the hope of making a quick buck, we may end up bankrupt and eventually break up the family.  If we cheat the company, evade taxes and manipulate the company’s accounts, we may find the law pursuing us in years to come.  We will live in fear and with a bad conscience.

Consequently, if we want to build our house on solid rock, we must not only come to Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but we must also put into practice all that He has taught us and shown us.  Faith in Christ is not just an intellectual or verbal assent but a commitment of the heart to His person, His works and His words.  As Jesus warns us, “It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord”, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.”   We must let the Word of God transform our lives.  So to build the house on solid rock in the final analysis is to do the will of the Father, putting into practice what the Lord has taught us.

This Advent, as we await the coming of Christ and His kingdom of love and peace in our lives, we must welcome the Word of the Lord, first into our hearts and minds, then live it out in our daily life.  When we keep His word, “the Father will love him, and we shall come to him.  (Jn 14:23)

It is His presence in us that will strengthen us to resist any temptation and evil.  As the prophet declares, “That day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; to guard us he has set wall and rampart about us. Open the gates! Let the upright nation come in, she, the faithful one whose mind is steadfast, who keeps the peace, because she trusts in you.”   Let us form ourselves with a strong Christian character so that we will remain unmoved by all the temptations of the world and be wise enough to reject the illusory values the world is offering us.  There is no short cut to happiness.  It is the way of the cross, the way of forming ourselves in the light of Christ’s teaching and walking in the Spirit of Christ.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Stained glass church window in Béthanie, Hong Kong, of St Francis Xavier baptizing a Chinese man
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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, December 1, 2016 — “Only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven will enter the Kingdom of heaven.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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