Scripture: Is. 26: 1-6; Mt. 7: 21-27 See Readings (http://www NULL.usccb NULL.org/bible/readings/120513 NULL.cfm)
During Advent in 2000, my father passed away. It was a difficult time for my entire family, and the idea of preparing to celebrate a birth, even Jesus’s, while mourning my father seemed strange and impossible. And yet today’s readings let us know that it is OK to think of death and entering the Kingdom of Heaven during Advent. Many of our Advent and Christmas memories are of those we loved who have entered God’s kingdom. We are not asked to ignore those memories or put aside grief as we prepare for Christmas.
In today’s readings, Jesus tells us that “the one who does the will of my Father…[will]…enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 7). Jesus goes on to instruct us to do so by building our houses on rock, not sand. The image that comes to mind is the story I have read to my daughters many times: The Three Little Pigs. The wisest pig built her home of bricks so strong that they provided shelter from the Big Bad Wolf for her and her siblings. Perhaps that is exactly what we are asked to do in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven— build a life that is strong enough to withstand the big bad wolves of life greed, pride, and anger, just to name a few and then protect and nurture others in need.
This Advent as we pray and meditate on these readings, what can the story of Jesus’s birth tell us about how we should build our life brick by brick on the solid rock of God? Do we use bricks that are strong, yet humble, in remembrance of the Jesus’s humble beginnings? Do we use bricks that are welcoming, like Jesus’s family welcomes so many into the stable to take a peek at the baby in the manager? Do we use bricks that are joyful? First we must build our homes on a faith in God as solid as a rock, and then ponder what bricks we must add so our home is safe from the rains and winds of life.
Prayer: Dear God, this Advent let us be grateful for the gifts of life and of death. This Advent let us be mindful of our desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven when our time on Earth is finished. Let us be mindful of what foundation we use to build our lives and our homes, and help us to find ways to build our life upon God’s love. Amen.
By Bethany Gregg
St. Vincent parishioners have written reflections for every day in Advent. They are available in booklet form in the Gathering Space, and they will be posted daily on our website. See the entire St. Vincent Advent Reflection Booklet 2013.