Thursday of the First Week of Advent
(Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21.24-27)
The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes good works to such an extent that it is a wonder any Christian can deny their importance. In today’s passage, from the beginning of the gospel, Jesus stresses the importance of acting on his word. He is exhorting his disciples to treat others as they want to be treated. No doubt he has in mind respect, patience and help if one is in need. At the end of the gospel Jesus tells the same men that the nations will be judged precisely on how they have treated the weak and poor. If they have fed the hungry and visited the sick, they will be rewarded with eternal life. If they have ignored the needy, they can expect punishment.
In the first reading Isaiah describes a society that takes care of the needy as “strong.” Such a people can raise their heads high because they have fulfilled the will of God. He will guard that society forever.
One way to care for the needy is to do “random acts of kindness.” That is, for no reason other than it might please others we pay for someone’s coffee or make rice pudding to be eaten after a meeting. We will find such acts strengthening our communities. They also will please God and make us feel good about ourselves.