Wednesday, June 22, 2016

BUILDING ON ROCK


Homily for June 23rd, 2016: Matthew 7:21-29.

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Only a fool would build a house on sand. After each heavy rain, a torrent would come and wash away anything in its path. Jesus had probably seen structures carried away by heavy rains and storms in Palestine.

To build one's house on sand means to build our lives on things that are unstable and fleeting, things that cannot not withstand the tests of time and the hazards of chance. What are such things? Money, success, fame, and even health and prosperity. None of those things is reliable or solid.

To build one's house on rock means to base our lives on things that are solid, enduring, things that cannot be carried away with Life’s storms. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Jesus says later in this gospel according to Matthew, “but my words will not pass away.” (24:35) To build our house on rock means building our life on God. Rock is one of the preferred biblical symbols for the God. “Trust in the Lord forever,” we read in the prophet Isaiah, “for the Lord is an eternal rock.” (26:4). The book Deuteronomy says the same: "He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is." (32:4)

To build one's house on the rock means, therefore, living in the Church and not remaining on the fringe, at a distance, using the excuse that the Church is filled with corruption, dishonesty. and sin. Of course it is! The Church is made up of sinners like ourselves.

Today's gospel starts with what seems a harsh message. For the first time Matthew speaks about people who refer to Jesus as their Lord. But what good is it to cry out, "Lord, Lord," Jesus asks, when your works are not done for him but for your own glory? When we cry out "Lord," it should mean that we belong to him at all times, and not just as temporary acquaintances. When the Lord responds, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers,” (a harsh message indeed) Jesus is really expressing his longing for people who are truly close to him in daily life. Those who do things in his name to be seen and honored, yet refuse to live in daily fellowship with him are fraudulent. Those who are deaf to the Word of God, who do not act upon it, and whose lives are not built upon God will be swept away when the storms of life descend.