Readings for Today
Sometimes we need to be at the bottom before we realize that we are really in need. It is just when we realize that we have nowhere else to turn, that we can be ready to receive what will really help us. It can be the case that when it seems we have burned every relationship that we are ready to seek out the one relationship from which all these relationships flow. Sometimes it takes losing everything before we can really find what matters.
That is what happened to those who heard the message of truth and acted on it. Tax collectors and prostitutes heard the message of Jesus and they realized that only be listening to Jesus, trusting in his word, knowing that by turning their lives to Jesus they could leave behind the life that failed to satisfy. By circumstance or by choice, their lives had become empty. They were broken. They were desperate. And then came Jesus.
And with his arrival, their lives changed. New life became possible. They heard the message, and in so doing they realized that God was the source of all life. Even though the new life they heard about required hard choices and dramatic changes, they realized that it also held the source of fulfillment. They realized that this new way of life could offer far more than what they had lived so far. In hearing the word of life, in experiencing the feeling of fulfillment only Jesus could give, they found their lives had been made whole and complete.
It is not unlike what our experience of Advent and Christmas. We are offered choices during this Advent season. We are offered a vision of consumerism, where the right gifts and the right stuff are held out to us as the source of joy. Yet all too soon we can find ourselves empty. Or, we discover that what we received, even what we have given, can all too quickly give way to the next great thing, the next piece of technology, or the next great piece of clothing, or whatever. We are also invited to turn away from sin, to pray and reflect, to make room in our heart, for the person of Jesus to dwell there.
When we consider the story of the two sons, one was concerned with actually doing the will of the father, even though at first he said he would not. Then there was the son who was more concerned with the external, with image, with something that is fleeting and unimportant. He said he would do the father’s will, but in the end did not do it. As followers of Jesus we can think that simply saying yes to him is enough. But in reality, the conversion of our hearts is what matters, and actually doing the will of God is what matters.
Fleeting or lasting, surface or depth, words or actions, temporary or eternal, materialism or Jesus. These are the choices which are set before us. If you want to welcome Jesus into your hearts, pray. Celebrate the sacraments. Change your hearts.