First Thursday in Advent - December 6th
According to their own website, The Prudential Insurance Company began using the Rock of Gibraltar as its primary symbol in 1896, just twenty years after the company was founded. The company’s first slogan in connection with this particular rock was “Prudential has the strength of Gibraltar.” In addition to strength, large rocks almost always make one immediately think of solidity, endurance, unshakableness, and permanence.
In two of today’s readings, Isaiah 26 and Matthew 7, this same image is used to exhort us toward a goal that is far more profound than obtaining the right kind of insurance. In these passages, we are urged to place our trust in God, to heed his words, and to put those words into practice since it is they alone that offer us perfect certainty. In Isaiah 26:4, we are told to “trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock.” And in Matthew 7:24-27, we are given a brief, simile-laden parable of Jesus (cf. Luke 6:47-49) that teaches us that failing to heed Jesus' words as we make choices in life is the construction equivalent of erecting a house without considering its foundation: not only is this folly in the extreme, but it is also certain to leave us “demolished” and utterly without peace whenever we encounter adversity.
What is the peace that results from such trust and obedience worth? Most of us would agree that it is priceless since we also know from experience how quickly disorientation and distraction insert themselves into the void that forsaken peace leaves behind. By definition, when we are disoriented, our focus has been turned away from where it should be. And when we are distracted, we inevitably miss opportunities for growth as well as opportunities to love others well and to minister to their needs.
Surely one of the greatest promises of Advent (an event which literally marks God’s coming to us in order to meet our greatest need) is found in Isaiah 26:3: “the steadfast of mind [God] will keep in perfect peace.” As you go forward this season, strive to remain focused on how this perfect peace is achieved: according to Isaiah, it comes about “because” we are trusting in him.
Theology and Religious Studies