December 2, 2018
1st Sunday of Advent
You should conduct yourselves in a way that is pleasing to God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1
Everyone who works for a living knows that in order to succeed in business, it always helps to know what the “supervisor” wants and to try to carry it out. I had quite a few “bosses” when I worked in the airline industry: some were great and some were not so great, but my goal as an employee was always the same, to try to do the best job possible. It helps to realize that whatever we do (whether we like our task or not), we are actually working for the Lord and not just for a paycheck; the way we carry out our daily obligations is a measure of our love for Christ.
We can apply this same logic to our relationship with God, because it works pretty much the same way. In today's second reading, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they should conduct themselves in a way that is pleasing to God. That seems pretty straightforward. While God does not want to be known as a “boss” or “supervisor,” Jesus does teach us to call God our Father, so this logic applies even more.
Life can get pretty complicated at times, but our relationship with God does not have to be so complicated. We have here an easy way to judge a variety of situations and actions in our lives, by asking ourselves this question: is what I'm about to do pleasing to God? Is what I'm about to say pleasing to God? Is the way I am treating this person pleasing to God? Is my life pleasing to God?
Most of us try very hard to please the person or persons that we love the most. Sometimes the person we try to please the most is ourselves, but too much self-love can lead to selfishness. When we love someone, we do our best to please them; and when we strive to please God, this is another way of telling him that we love him. What makes life worth living for most of us is being in a relationship with people that we love. Placing God as first among those we care about means striving to please Him by what we say and do, being conscious of the Lord in our decision-making and way of life.
The last line of today's Gospel (Luke 21:36) says this: be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and stand with confidence before the Son of Man. It is our faith in Jesus that makes us pleasing to God and allows us to stand with confidence before him. As we grow to love God more and more, we will find that we want our actions, our decisions, and everything that we do to be more and more pleasing to God. As this becomes a way of life, this becomes a relationship, and the Lord is pleased to call us a friend.