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Friday, December 9, 2011

Responding with the Heart

"Wisdom is vindicated by her works." Mt 11:19

Spiritual directors often speak of "resistances" to God's action in our lives.  Sometimes it is unresolved conflicts from the past that seem to block our submitting ourselves to God.  At other times, it is too much work , too much television or too much time in front of the computer. Part of my work, for instance, demands that I spend time reflecting on the daily scriptures, researching areas with which I am not familiar and actually writing this blog or a homily, but the computer cannot be my life.  Unless I take sufficient quiet time to remember God's enduring presence all around me, what I read, study and write will be like dry straw. Lacking a certain spirit, it will be unable to help lift people to God and urge them to live for God and do God's work.

In today's gospel text, Matthew uses the image of children playing a flute hoping that people will dance, but no one listens. Addressing the Jewish leaders of his day, Jesus suggests that their lives are full of "resistances" because they reject John the Baptist for being too strict about fasting and him for being too lax.  In other words, the Pharisees and teachers of the law are determined not to like or respect the actions of John and Jesus because their own power and religious observance is threatened or judged as less than authentic. 

Advent is a good time to examine our own commitment to faith and its practice. Have our prayers become routine, mumbled out of obligation quickly and with little heart?  Has our inability to stop comparing ourselves to others impeded our own progress in the spiritual life? As Jesus reminds his hearers: the wisdom of following him will be vindicated by our good works.  People will see in us the Christ who grounds us in hope or they will ignore our halfhearted attempts to appear religious.

Today, ask God to reveal how you resist his Word. Don't live a gospel life for show, but ask for the gift of authenticity.

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