How To Be A Wise Person

Thursday of Week 1 in Advent

Is. 26:1-6 & Matt. 7:21, 24-27

Our two readings today tell us how to be wise or how to remain a fool. The wise person is the one who relies on God and builds his house on rock. The foolish one relies on people and builds his house on sand.

Isaiah in the first reading points out that it is the foolish person who wants to be self-reliant or who thinks he can depend only on other people to make life worthwhile. It is not that we are bad or that other people are bad. It is just that without God no one can make us happy. Turning to God and relying on Him is the only realistic approach to life. One of the great marvels of Christmas is that the eternal Son of God did not deem divinity something to cling to, but humbled Himself to come among us as a man. He chose to be dependent on His Father in His humanity. That act of humility is the model for all of us.

It is easy to address Jesus as "Lord, Lord," for we know by faith that He is the Son of God. His miracles and the endurance of His Church attest to His divine nature. Yet, our recognition of His divinity isn’t enough. Our admission that "Jesus is my Saviour" won’t guarantee us a place in Heaven. Faith in Christ can’t just remain on our lips; it must penetrate our hearts and minds in our everyday lives as well. Faith also implies doing the will of God the Father - in thoughts, words and deeds. How does my faith in Christ translate into that? Am I satisfied with weekly Mass and saying a few prayers?

Christ exhorts His disciples to build their faith on rock, not on sentimentality. To dig a solid foundation of faith takes hard work. It demands constancy in prayer, charity and generosity. It also requires humility and purity of intention, since the work of preparing a foundation is not glamorous. There’s nothing particularly beautiful about a big hole in the ground at a construction site. So it is in the spiritual life, too; digging a foundation forces us to go deep, to remove our worst faults. The process isn’t pretty. It forces us to face our vices honestly and to rip away the mask we might wear in front of others. Without this step we risk building our lives on sand. How well am I digging my foundation?

Foundations seem firm when all is calm. Fair weather doesn’t test the strength of a building. The real test comes in a gale or a blizzard, The same test occurs in the spiritual life. When serenity reigns around us, peace blossoms effortlessly. But when a crisis befalls us - a rejection, an illness, a bit of opposition over a moral matter - that’s when we learn the sturdiness of our faith. Peter, who boasted that he would stand by Our Lord "though all may have their faith in you shaken" (Matthew 26:33), learned the hard way that his courage wasn’t what he thought it was. He abandoned Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, as did all the apostles. How well do I face ordinary temptations and setbacks? How well could I face a serious crisis?

Lord Jesus, may we rely entirely on You and may we build our lives on the solid rock of prayer, fasting and good works.