10 December 2010

Listen, follow, act

2nd Week Advent (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

To the prophet Isiah the Lord says, “I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.” The Psalmist echoes this truth when he writes, “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” Developing the idea even further, Jesus says to the crowds, “. . .wisdom is vindicated by her works.” The Lord leads. We follow. And wisdom is upheld in His deeds. If there's a formula to living in Christ, this is it: Go where the Lord leads; do what He asks; and the truth of His Word will manifest in the fruit of our works. This sounds so easy, so straightforward. But we all know how often things go so horribly wrong. Jesus gives us a good reason for our frequent failures. Instead of listening to the Lord and following Him, we prefer to do the talking; we prefer to lead Him where we want Him to go. Needless to say, this is the formula for spiritual disaster.

Speaking to the crowds, Jesus compares his generation to children in the marketplace who complain that no one dances to their music, no one mourns when they sing. The people of this generation accuse John the Baptist of being possessed by a demon b/c he neither eats nor drinks. When Jesus eats and drinks with sinners, they accuse him of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors. Like the children in the marketplace who whine b/c no one dances to their tunes, those who hear John and Jesus preach reject what they hear b/c it's not what they want to hear. Perhaps we shouldn't be too quick in condemning the crowds. John and Jesus are preaching some difficult truths: repentance, humility, charity, and obedience. There's little here to soothe a sinners' mind, almost nothing attractive to a heart steeped in sin. Regardless, let's not miss out on Jesus' principal concern. By accusing both John and Jesus of the same crimes for different reasons, the people of this evil generation expose a deeply seated unwillingness to listen to, follow after, and uphold the wisdom of God. John and Jesus are preaching a consistent message of repentance and salvation. The stubborn crowds are living lives of destructive contradiction. In other words, when the heart and mind are divided against themselves, truth cannot take hold and thrive. 

If you hope to be a follower of Christ and not just a fan, you will unite your mind around the light of life; you will close your heart around the radical openness of God's love. When we listen to, follow after, and act on the Father's wisdom, we will not only be made whole, we will be vindicated—upheld and glorified as Christ himself is glorified.

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1 comment:

  1. Greetings,
    I am punching the "nest blog" button to see where it takes me. I read the first few posts and found it interesting. I will bookmark it and get back.

    I am assuming that your framework is that of a serious Roman Catholic. As a serious Protestant I am always glad to run into Catholics who seem to know the same Jesus I do.

    Grace and Peace