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Joe Hoover, S.J.December 02, 2021
Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash

A Reflection for the Thursday of the First Week of Advent


“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Mt 7:24).

The Sermon on the Mount, the long series of exhortations by Christ to his disciples, which “these words of mine” refers to, fundamentally shifted humankind. It repositioned our lodestar, put a new galaxy in our sight, changed how we ought to measure the success of our lives. Everything humans thought they knew, throughout all existence, about how to live and achieve happiness had been flipped on its head. Stop judging. Perform your righteous deeds in secret. Even being angry with your brother is a sin. Do not worry about your life. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. We are called to do things that seem to make no sense, and yet those things are ultimately the most liberating things we can do.

Good teachers know that the best way to manage a rambunctious group of 9-year-olds is not an elaborate series of warnings, punishments and timeouts. It is a good lesson plan. It is keeping the kids engaged in something—paste, cray-pas, popsicle sticks—to fill up the space they would have used for primary school lawlessness.

Everything humans thought they knew, throughout all existence, about how to live and achieve happiness had been flipped on its head: Stop judging. Perform your righteous deeds in secret.

It is similar with these acts Christ calls us to. We do these simple yet extraordinary deeds and we build up a certain kind of DNA in our souls that can withstand the world’s corruption. To stave off evil, we fill our hearts with good and righteous acts, so evil has no space to enter. The Sermon on the Mount is a call to a litany of righteous acts.

Doing these acts, we make of our lives a bulwark against the ferocious weather out there, the kind that takes us into suffering and despair. In living these words, we conform our very selves to Christ, the only true shelter from the storm.

Get to know Joe Hoover, S.J., poetry editor


1. Favorite Christmas Hymn

O Holy Night

2. Favorite Christmas Tradition

The way you wake up every Christmas and it just feels like Christmas.

3. Favorite Christmas Recipe

Povotica: this insanely good Croatian pastry roll my mom makes only this time of year, even though she’s not Croatian.

4. Favorite Poem You Wrote This Year

Advent Dawns at the Sacred Cafe

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