The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples: "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house."
A centre for our meditation today is how Jesus Christ displays his infinite patience . Patience is the virtue of that person who has built on rock. When evil times hit, when the heavens pour down uncontrollable floods, that house remains standing if it is built with deep foundations in the rocky subterrain.
"Rock" bears any number of important symbolical meanings in the Bible, but all of them converge on strength, consistency, fidelity, and continuity. In Num 20:11, the rock is struck by Moses' rod and produces sweet water. In 1 Cor 10:4 this rock follows the Israelites through the desert as a continuous source of water. The rock, says Paul, is Christ. In Ps 81:17 it even produces honey. In Isa 28:16 the rock supports the Jerusalem temple where God dwells among his people. In Ps 95:1 God himself is acclaimed as the rock of our salvation. In Matthew 16:18 Peter is the rock or foundation of the church.
As these and other passages are stitched together, rock indicates the steady assurance of God's grace, the presence of God in temple or church, the human representatives of God as Rock. Patience builds this kind of house.
Impatient persons build on sand and so are not dependable. They act or react impulsively. Anger takes control of them before they can think. Rash words are spoken that cannot be obliterated from people's memories. Within all this haste wisdom is lost. When difficulties come, this person is not dependable. "When the torrent rushed on it, it immediately fell in and was completely destroyed."
The visible part is not always what is most important. From the outside, the two houses in today's parable looked the same. But they were fundamentally different, because their foundations were different. One was built on sand and the other on rock. What was most important about the two houses, their foundations, was not visible on the surface. Jesus is speaking in that parable about the importance of getting the foundations of our lives right, what's below the surface of our living. Just as the houses in the parable had to be able to deal with rivers in flood, we know from our own experience that we often have to deal with very challenging situations. We can be hit with all kinds of difficulties, whether relating to our health, our relationships, our work. Our ability to deal with those difficulties will depend on what our lives are built upon. In the gospel Jesus presents himself as the only foundation worth building upon. Listening to his words and acting on them, following in his way, he says, ensures that our lives will be built on rock, and that we will be able to withstand the storms of life when they come along. If we build our lives on the Lord, the Lord will enable us to hold together when the great tests come along, whatever form they might take. The Lord wants to be the foundation of our lives. But if that is to happen, he needs us to actively take him as the foundation of our lives. If we are to know the security which only he can give us, we need to entrust ourselves to his word, and allow ourselves to be shaped by that word, saying with Mary his mother and ours, "Let it be to me according to your word."