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Thursday, first week of Advent

December 1, 2011

Blessed Thursday!

Stir up Your power, O Lord,
and come to our help with mighty strength,
that what our sins impede
the grace of Your mercy may hasten.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Opening prayer from today’s Mass)

Readings:
Isaiah 26: 1-6 (the just will live in a protected city, but the lofty will be trampled underfoot)
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27 “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”
+ Matthew 7:21, 24-27 (build your house on rock, not sand)

He sets up walls and ramparts to protect us
-Isaiah 26:1

Walls have their place.

God designed us with a need for limits, for boundaries, for protection.
He didn’t just set us adrift in a vast, vulnerable expanse of randomness.
He prepared a place for us.
Even the word used for the Garden of Eden designates a place with a wall.
Heaven itself is described as having a massive wall built of brilliant gems
with twelve pearly gates (Revelation 21:10-21).

These gates have a purpose–some things are to be taken in, others kept out:

Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps the faith
-Isaiah 26:2

That’s what God does with the Kingdom of Heaven.

It’s not anyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,”
who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven,
but the person who does the will of My Father in Heaven
-Matthew 7:21

God opens His gates only to the just, to those who keep the faith.

These are the wise, who have themselves been selective about opening their gates,
who have taken His words
–His instructions on how He designed us to live–
into the city of their hearts;
who have dug deep and built their lives on them,
closing their gates against the enticements of “another gospel” (see Galatians 1:6),
however appealing or insistent.

These are the ones God can protect,
the ones He can keep safe against the raging storms of life.

Advent can be a stormy season.
There are extra demands on our time, our finances, our attention, our relationships.

Do you have walls?
…with gates?

Do you have limits, boundaries that let in what is good, holy and faithful
while keeping out intruders?
Or are you

like a city broken into and left without walls
-Proverbs 25:28

(said of a man without self-control)

Why have you broken down its walls,
so that every passer-by plucks its fruit,
the boar from the forest lays it waste,
and the beasts of the field feed upon it?
-Psalm 80:12-14

Is every passer-by plucking your fruit,
the “boar from the forest” laying you waste?

There is a remedy.
Nehemiah found himself in just such a position when he and the exiles returned from Babylon:

Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem,
so that we may no longer be an object of derision…
And they undertook the good work with vigor
-Nehemiah 2:17, 18

Just make sure you’re building on the Rock!

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