Friday of the Second Week

Readings

Is 48:17-19
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
Mt 11:16-19

Reflection

A few summers ago I was hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  As I strolled through a breathtaking meadow, I came upon a small, babbling creek.  At first glance, there was nothing unique about the creek; it was maybe five feet across and cool water was gliding smoothly over a few large stones.  But as I passed by, I overheard a park ranger talking to another hiker.  “Yup, this little brook right here is the very beginning of the Arkansas River.  This very water eventually hits the Mississippi and lands in the Gulf of Mexico.”  In that moment, I was struck by the overwhelming beauty of nature’s work.  As I walked along the bank of the infant Arkansas, I pondered the reality that this same water would drift effortlessly across thousands of miles, enter a vast ocean, circle the world, and bring life wherever it goes.

Isaiah 48:18 says that “if you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river.”  Like stumbling upon that creek, at first glance this text seems rather simple and shallow.  It’s a formula, right?  Obedience + God’s commandments = Prosperity.  But if that’s the case, you don’t need to study for your engineering final.  Just go to church, pray, and be nice to people.  Who needs thermodynamics anyway?

Maybe there’s more here.  What does God command?  If you’re like me, ten things come to mind.  But Jesus said that life can be summed up by two things: love God, and love your neighbor (Matt 22:37-39).  To be fully human, then, means to look anywhere but the self.  The challenge is that we’re rather self-oriented creatures.  Don’t believe me?  What came to mind at the promise of prosperity?  The beauty here is that God knows we’re selfish.  That’s why we’re invited into a life of loving God and loving others.  The effect of an others-oriented life is prosperity.  Like a river, your life can spread beauty, peace, and joy wherever you go.

As we head into final exams and the busyness of the holiday season, practice an others-oriented life.  Take a study break and bake cookies for your suite next door.  Bring an extra cup of coffee to your group review session.  Buy a few $5 Starbucks gift cards and give them away to stressed out shoppers at Target.  Sit in the Immaculata for ten minutes each day and observe the majesty and beauty of God.  This Advent, discover the joy of living God’s way and watch prosperity flow through your life everywhere you go.

Jason Belcher
Associate Area Ministry Director
InterVarsity at the University of San Diego