Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

What would it be
like  to build our
inner house on sand?
Transcript of homily recorded on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 (Thursday of the First Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Well, I'm on retreat this week, and I am just coming back from morning Masses. I got gently scolded by the retreat master last night, but that's alright.

There's trees down everywhere. Lights are out everywhere. I went to bed at 7, I think, last night, practically, because the lights were out. Signals [are] out. It's done a lot of devastation. In fact, in Pasadena, Arcadia, schools are closed. It's a mess. And here we are in a very modern city, with concrete and, you name it; and yet this is mild compared to the east coast and the Philippines when the hurricanes come, and even tornadoes. We are gently hit whenever we're hit. This is a good one.

And Jesus uses this example of a storm against people's buildings, buildings that were either properly built or not properly built — built on a strong foundation of rock or on sand. The example is obvious. This is what happens to buildings that are not built well when the storms come. But, of course, Jesus is not concerned about buildings at all.

It's an interesting aside, years ago, I remember, they built a bomb in our country. You could drop it on cities and it wouldn't destroy the buildings, just kill everybody. Now isn't that the height of technology? We can kill everybody, but not ruin the buildings. That's kind of like the Gospel in reverse.

But what Jesus is after is hidden in that example, too. Imagine that we would come up with the technology to kill people and leave the buildings alone. Where are the values? What is it all about? And that's what Jesus is always after, what's it's all about. And he goes down deep into our spirit to say, like building a house on sand, what would it be like to build our inner house on sand? To have the kind of values that put things before people? To have the kind of values that would always seek revenge, that would always seek to be No. 1? To have the kind of values that the only one that matters is me — it's everyone living in my world? And Jesus says that, eventually, that structure will fall and be completely ruined.

The great story of this time of year is Scrooge, the man who tried to build everything for himself and ended up completely alone, completely isolated, having not a single friend. People tried to get in, and he wouldn't let them in. And in the end — well, thanks be to God — he finally got through the message. And you saw the difference, the transformation between and a man totally isolated and alone who finally allowed love to enter, and his world burst open. He was completely transformed.

And so Jesus gives us this example today because I think, not because he wants perfect people out there, but because he wants happy people, because he wants people to find life who even in distress and struggle — even in dying — can be filled with hope and with peace and even, perhaps, joy.

Now the good thing about this little storm that hit is, the city's a mess. But what really shows a testament to a city is when it gets up on its feet, cleans up and puts it back in order — and perhaps even makes some improvements. And the really beautiful test is when people check on their neighbors and see that everyone's OK. And the best of all is when everyone checks on the crab that lives on the block, the crabby, old cranky that nobody likes, but they say we better go check on her or him, see how they're doing. Because that shows a city that's built on rock, when the values, hopes and the strengths and the spirit are really of God, and bring us close to God.

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