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Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 09, 2016

Not so the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the Lord watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes. ~ Ps 1:4, 6

Most of us are so removed from agricultural realities that we fail fully to embrace the image of chaff in today’s psalm. I recall a field trip with one of my children many years ago to a historic farm where the docent demonstrated the process of threshing and winnowing. The grain was spread out on the threshing floor, beaten with flails and then tossed up into the air with a wooden winnowing fork. The scaly husks that surrounded the seed—lightweight, no longer important—vanished into the breeze.

Perhaps we might think of chaff as the human externals of our lives: where we work or study or live, what positions of status or importance we hold, how we dress and what we drive and whom we know. The wheat is our spiritual interior: our dedication to a life of faithfulness in prayer and service to others.

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On the face of it, there is nothing objectionable about holding a good job or studying at a prestigious university or driving a nice car—as long as our real focus is on God. But if our pursuit of these goods interferes with our ability or desire to deepen our relationship with God, that, my friends, is a problem.  Ultimately, the jobs, the degrees, the nice houses, are all chaff in God’s eyes—they do not make us virtuous or worthy. What matters is that we walk the way of the just, under the sheltering protection of God’s love.

RELATED: Read all of our Advent reflections for 2016

Watchful and loving God, Help me discern which of the many paths before me is the path of the faithful, and give me the courage to walk it. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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