The Responsorial Psalm sets us on the path to fulfillment: “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of
life” (Psalm 1).
Why is the world in such bad shape? Why, after two thousand years of Christianity, is there still so much poverty and violence, so much hatred and division on earth? Why is there so much indifference to the need of those who are crushed by poverty, enslaved by drugs, alcohol and addiction to money and power?
It is not God’s fault. He tells us in Isaiah 48: 17-19, “I, the Lord your God, teach you what is for your good and lead you on the way you should go.” God teaches and leads; we just won’t listen and follow.
But if we would, everything would change. We have God’s word for it: “If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea.”
Is it the Church’s fault? Is it because priests and parents fail to “teach us what is for our good,” and we fail to “lead each other on the way we should go?” Are the parishes the problem? The schools? Families?
We can answer in every age: “All of the above,” because people are never perfect; all of us fall short.
But the most basic problem is that too often we refuse to accept what we are given, no matter how well it is presented. Matthew 11: 16-19 tells us people had this problem with Jesus himself. People rejected him because he didn’t live the austere life John the Baptizer did. But they didn’t accept John either, because they said his life was too austere! “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
When we say something to people they don’t want to hear, we can’t win! But those who listen to Jesus — and to what the Church is really saying — will come into the fullness of life. And the world will be renewed: “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.”
Initiative: If you seek fulfillment, seek it where it can be found. Respond to Jesus. During Advent, listen with a new attention to the readings at Mass. Each Sunday make one decision in response to what you hear. Find one concrete way to live it out in action.