Reflection for Thursday, December 7, 2017: 1st Week of Advent.

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Shanahan, Tom, S.J.
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St. Matthew's gospel shows wonderful concentration and direction in recounting the words and deeds of Jesus.  Our reading today is from the very end of the Sermon on the Mount, the initial discourse of Jesus.  The Sermon (chapters 5-7) establishes the pattern of the rest of Matthew's gospel:  long discourses followed by chapters that recount the saving actions of Jesus.   The Sermon is the first of five such discourses.|The message that runs through Matthew is the invitation to humbly live our faith, hope and love just like Jesus does in his ministry.  That message impels his disciples to serving the needs of people, modeled on Jesus' words and actions.  It is a kind of "how-to" gospel on following Jesus and acting in his behalf.|The message is spelled out in the section of Matthew today – "not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter into the Kingdom of heaven."  It's not enough to just say that we love God and his Son.  That "saying" needs to be backed up by consistent and firm actions that continue to tell the story of Jesus (the great discourses of Matthew).  We are invited to be like Jesus, to imitate him, in word and deed.|Each one of us is called to be a disciple, instructed by the wisdom of Jesus' words: "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them" will exhibit the wisdom given as his gift to us.  As we grow in deeply hearing and responding to the gospel's message, virtues like faith, justice and peace begin to flourish in our world; virtues like this are so urgently called for in today's topsy-turvy world.|The parable that Jesus uses to capture the meaning in today's segment of St. Matthew's gospel is the construction of a house: either we build on a rock or on the sand.  One remains firm despite rains, floods and winds that buffet it and the other "collapsed and was completely ruined."  These very last words of the Sermon on the Mount challenge us to look to Jesus as the solid foundation of our faith, hope and love.|The Sermon on the Mount has included in it both the Beatitudes and the Our Father, hallmarks of the true disciple; they are guides to living the Christ-life within us.  We are invited each day to focus on the Rock that is Christ.  Looking to him with that focus we can more deeply hear Jesus' word and heed the call to serving the needs of those around us. |Thank you, Brother Jesus, for showing us the way by your words and actions of love.  Inspire us and be with us as we hear your call to service.   We are grateful for your call and invitation.  Let us continue to grow as women and men of faith, justice and love.  Keep us faithful to the discipleship you call out from us.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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