From the Gospel reading for today’s Mass:
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.”
Being Christian is not a part-time thing, something to be done for an hour on Sundays or when it is convenient. It is supposed to be something that we are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is supposed to guide us in all events and situations.
Jesus is implying this when He differentiates between those who hear His words and lives by them versus those who only listen. Those who live by His teachings survive the buffetings of life, all the storms that rage against us. Those who do not will not.
What house of faith do we build? Is in one built on rock, so that when we are buffeted by trials, temptations, troubles and tribulations we survive, because we rest in Jesus and His teachings? Or is it a house of faith built upon sand, so that when the least amount of trouble comes, it collapses and falls because we relied upon our own strengths?
The former is the faith we Christians are supposed to possess, the faith that endures whatever is tossed at us by life; the latter is the faith of convenience, the faith that on the outside seems sincere and devoted, but is abandoned in trying times. A faith that is crushed by life. That is a faith that isn’t strong, so that it’s possessor abandons it for the seeming comfort of an addiction or a secular solution.
One of my main character defects that seems to uncomfortably linger on despite 5 and a half years of sobriety is impatience, frustration, and annoyance. I lump them all together because they are all a symptom or offshoot of pride. “Why should I have to endure this trial, this delay and whatnot? Don’t you realize who I am?” And therefore when something happens that offends my sense of how things should be ordered for my convenience, I get impatient, annoyed, irritable and the like. I usually work through it and come out much the better, but the lag time between the thing that triggered my impatience, etc., and my acceptance lasts too long, it seems. Granted, my “working through it” helps me to grow spiritually, but still the example could be better and the results do not justify the means.
Anyway, humility is the usual antidote to pride. I have to remind myself of my proper place in the Universe (there is a God and I’m not Him, I’m just a sinner with a computer) and struggle to do better. I try to place in my mind a training method that recognizes these prideful triggers and nip them in the bud as soon as I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. I’m a sinner and I recognize that.
Humility is a major theme for this Advent season. The obvious counter to any prideful resentment over having to endure a situation is to remind ourselves that God humbled Himself to become like us, so as to to eventually pay the price of the crime we committed, that of Original Sin. Jesus’ birth and death were two humiliating circumstances that He did not have to undergo. But He did for love of us. This needs to be meditated upon again and again during this season. (We get to do it again in a few months when Lent begins.)
We listen to Jesus’s words and we live by them. We humbly accept whatever happens to us, and hopefully calmness will be the response and not frustration and impatience. We rest in Jesus. “Our hearts are restless until we rest in Him,” is either a Scriptural quote or a saying of a Saint, I can’t place it either way. It is a struggle to overcome our failings, but somehow we have to learn to live like another Christ. And living means to breathe, eat, drink, love and think. We can eat and drink of the Eucharist, and love and think through prayer.
Continue on your Advent journey of preparing for Christ’s arrival.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"