Blog # 418 Rock Foundation
St. Matthew gives the famous discourse of Jesus generally referred to as the Sermon on the Mount in Chapters 5,6, and 7of his Gospel. At the conclusion of the sermon Matthew says: "Jesus left the crowds spellbound at his teaching. The reason was that he taught with authority." In the text of the sermon as given in Matthew Jesus covers a great deal of ground beginning with the Beatitudes
then on down through identifying His disciples as 'salt' and 'light', love of one's enemies, the text of the prayer we have become accustomed to refer to as "The Lord's Prayer", the Golden Rule which directs us to "treat others the way you would have them treat you" with reference to that rule as the sum of the law and the prophets, and finally concludes with the famous story of the two men who built their houses, one on rock and the other on sand. Blog # 418 will be a response to that brief but significant conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount.
In my current reading of the passage I have received a different lesson than the one I had been receiving for many years, focusing appropriately and almost exclusively as I did on the foundation of the houses as reliable or not, rock or sand. Recently I began to see a comparison between these few verses of Matthew's Gospel and the equally known story of the widow's mite. ( Lk. 21 1-4 ). In that story Jesus draws the attention of His disciples to a poor widow placing just a couple of pennies into the treasury of the temple and then saying she put in more than all the rest, some of whom put in large sums. That story obviously was not about mathematics or money alone, but relationships. The rich contributors and the widow put into the treasury what each of them felt the temple was worth to them.
This same relationship could be expressed by placing God in place of temple, God's house, and their story comes out as telling us primarily of their different relationships with God. From this we see the substance meaning and value of our spiritual life does not hinge primarily upon our accomplishments but on our relationship with God, resulting primarily in our obedience to God's will. In this light two pennies can be more than all the rest.
In the story of the two houses built on different foundations the same lesson that sees relationships as more important than accomplishments is presented in a different way.. The two houses, accomplishments, are not compared as one more perfect than the other. From the story as given in the Gospel both houses were well built. Only the foundations on which the houses were placed is the focus of attention. Both were subjected to the same adverse weather conditions. The difference is their foundations. In our practical application of the story to our lives, we are invited to identify and examine the foundation of our faith and the difference our faith makes for us between ourselves and someone who does not share the faith we possess.
As Catholics our faith rests securely on the testimony of God through Jesus as the sole witness to those truths we take as true and upon which we build our life ('house'). An act of faith I memorized in preparation for my first Holy communion in the second grade and which I continue to pray daily goes like this: O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe Thy divine Son became man, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried. I believe He rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen! The testimony of God is surely a secure foundation. In response to it St. Paul could say nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord. (Rom. 8: 35 - 39.)