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.
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord!
May the name of the Lord be blessed
both now and for evermore! (R./)
From the rising of the sun to its setting
praised be the name of the Lord!
High above all nations is the Lord,
above the heavens his glory. (R./)
Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth?
From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from the dung heap he raises the poor. (R./)
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."
Patience is the virtue of a person who has built upon rock. When hard times hit, when the storm breaks and clouds pour down in floods, that house remains standing if it is built with deep foundations in the rocky subsoil. The image of "Rock" has various meanings in the Bible, but they all converge on strength, consistency, fidelity, and continuity. The rock struck by Moses' rod produced sweet water in the desert (Num 20:11). St Paul imagines that rock following the Israelites through the desert ... and that was Christ! (1 Cor 10:4) In Isaiah the rock supports the Jerusalem temple where God dwells among his people (28:16). In Psalm 95 God himself is acclaimed as the rock of salvation. And in Matthew Peter is the rock or foundation of the church (Mt 16:18).
If we try to stitch these passages into a pattern, 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 on a rock like this. Impatient and selfish people build on sand and so are not dependable. They react impulsively, with little regard for the feelings of others. Anger takes control of them before they can think. Rash words are spoken that cannot easily be forgotten. In hard times, this kind of character is not dependable. "When the torrent rushed on it, it immediately fell in and was destroyed." May the Lord, our living Rock, be our guide!
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. Their foundations were not visible on the surface. We need to get the foundations of our lives right, what's below the surface of daily living. Just as the houses in the parable had to withstand severe flooding, the equivalent in our lives can be critical 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 crisis situations will depend on our moral and spiritual foundations.
Jesus presents himself as the solid foundation to build on. Listening to his words and acting on them, ensures that our lives are built on rock, and that we can face the storms of life when they arise. If we build on the Lord, we can hold on when we are tested. He needs us to actively choose 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 him, and say with Mary his mother and ours, "Let it be to me according to your word."