Thursday, December 3, 2015

First Thursday of Advent: Words and Deeds

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man…Everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool.”

I would like to say I have it all together, but more often than not I have it all in pieces. I would like to say I’m a good and holy Jesuit, perfectly generous and prayerful, but more often than not I’m, well, normal. But maybe that’s alright. Maybe having all the pieces is the first step to holiness. Maybe the trick to goodness is just taking the pieces and putting them together.

Listen and act. Reading these words of Jesus, I’m moved by their total simplicity.
They resonate with words I use all the time -- desire and choose, take and receive -- but Jesus emphasizes not one or the other, but their connection -- listen and act, words and deeds, love and serve.

I come to Advent this year with a deep desire to live closer to holiness. I want my prayers to be more than empty sentiments or occasional thoughts. I want my words to find flesh in my actions. I want my choices to reflect my deepest desires. I want to be more like the wise man and less like the fool. I want to have it all together. But how.

St. Ignatius encourages us to talk with God as one friend talks to another, no doubt, recalling his own experience of long spiritual conversations with his college friends and roommates. Today we celebrate the memorial of one of those friends, the great Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier.

Perhaps a good way to honor Francis would be to make time for spiritual conversation, either with a good friend or in the silence of prayer. In these conversations I can practice the holiness (wholeness) of listening and acting. What do I hear? What response flows from my listening?  Maybe, in this way, I can listen to Jesus and act on his words. Maybe I can live less in pieces and more all together. Maybe I can be more like the wise man and less like the fool. Maybe.

Brendan Busse, SJ

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