Thursday December 5, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week of Advent
Reading (Isaiah 26:1-6) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:21, 24-27)
When Our Lord in the Gospel reading today speaks of building the house upon rock so that it is solidly founded and the winds and the rains come (all the different things that happen to us) and the house will not fall, the question is, what is that rock? We hear in the first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah that the Lord is an eternal rock. There are only two people in Scripture who are ever called “a rock”: one is God and the other is Saint Peter. Both of them have something founded upon them. And, of course, Saint Peter himself – the rock upon which the Church is built – must be founded first and foremost on Jesus. Saint Paul makes very clear that no other foundation can be laid except the one that was laid by the Lord. So while indeed the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the apostles and prophets are built on the foundation who is Jesus Christ.
That is precisely what our foundation must be. That is the only way the house is going to remain firm, that it will continue to stand in the face of all the things that will come against it. And the Lord tells us exactly how that is going to happen: that we have to not only hear His words, but we must put them into practice. That is what is required. And by putting those things into practice that the Lord tells us, going back to the first reading then, it is the Lord who will set everything up for us. The prophet tells us that they will be able to say, “He sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.” So all the things that will befall the house that we are building, it will be protected by the Lord – not only founded on Him, but protected by Him.
Now one would think if the Lord is protecting the house that there should not be any problem; there should not be the rain and the winds and all the problems that are going to buffet the house. But, in fact, just the opposite is true. We have no idea how solid the foundation is until it is tested. So the Lord allows all of these things to happen so that we will be able to put His words into practice. For instance, in the Beatitudes we hear, “Blessed are you when you are persecuted and slandered and gossiped about,” and all these different things that we have to go through. He told us that we have to take up our cross and follow Him. He told us that we will be hated because they hated Him first. He told us all these things. That is putting His words into practice. When we can accept these things and continue to walk along the right path, to carry our cross and to follow after Jesus, that is putting the words into practice.
It is not enough just to simply say that we believe in Him. If we believe in Him then we need to live what it is that He taught. And that means living all of it. Not just the parts that we like personally, not just the parts that seem to be pretty easy or pleasant, but the difficult ones as well because the rains will come, the floods will rise, the winds will buffet the house, and we need to make sure that that house is solidly set on rock. And there is only one rock that it can ultimately be set on, and that is Jesus Christ.
If we are founded on Christ and we are living the life of Christ, listening to His words and putting them into practice, the house will not fall. It will be buffeted and nothing will happen to it because Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which it is founded. He is the One who, within that house, is helping us to be able to live according to the ways of God the way that He taught it. That is the only way we are going to be able to make it to Heaven, as He makes very clear in the Gospel reading today: “Not everyone who cries out ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the Will of My Father in Heaven,” – only the one whose house is set firmly on the Rock and the one who is doing the Will of Christ, who hears His words and puts them into practice.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.