March 6, 2011 — Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
How solid is the foundation for your life? That’s the question Jesus challenges us with in the Gospel passage from Matthew 7. The wise man builds his house on rock, and the rain, floods, and winds cannot destroy it. But the fool – yes, Jesus uses that word – builds his house on a foundation of sand. The sand can shift, and the house collapses when it’s buffeted by rain, floods, and wind.
True as this example is, Jesus’ main concern was not with engineering or construction. His principal concern was with our lives and the sort of foundation we build them on. It’s the same basic choice we heard about in the reading from Deuteronomy 11, which is presented as a choice between a blessing and a curse.
The person who chooses to live by commandments of the Lord is the one who is wise and builds on a solid spiritual foundation, and that person has chosen a blessing. But the person who chooses to make something else the basis for his life – whether it is pleasure, fame, money, power, or any other popular choice – is a fool who dwells on shifting sand that gets washed away. Whether or not he realizes it, he has chosen a curse, because his life is not built on the moral foundation of the universe.
Ultimately we choose our own destination. We decide whether we’re going to put God or our own selves at the center of our lives. But even the person who seeks to obey the commandments of the Lord – the wise man, the one who has chosen the blessing – all too often fails in obeying God’s commandments. As St. Paul puts it in Romans 3, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” But the person who has faith in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, who has turned to God, finds forgiveness made available by grace.
By the grace God offers, the person does seek God finds that he experiences forgiveness but also a new power to live more nearly according to God’s will. That assistance God offers through grace then helps us follow the commandments, including sharing the time, talent, and treasure entrusted to us. Then as we live more and more as trustworthy stewards, we find that our spiritual homes, where our “inner selves” live, have been built on spiritual rock that never shifts.