Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21, 24-27
In the scriptures today we hear about floods and winds, rock and sand, destruction and security. Neither reading, however, is a sacred version of “This Old House,” for in both, God uses the images of building and buildings, homes and cities, to make a spiritual point. Our foundation must be firmly set on the Lord. This must not only be an idea, however, it must be a lived reality. Jesus reminds us that the proclamation of rootedness is not sufficient (although I do recall praying “Lord, Lord” as we crossed that angry river) but that we must DO the word of God. That is our true foundation. So too in Isaiah, it is not enough to have a strong city with mighty walls and ramparts but the city must contain a just and faithful nation. Jesus reminds us that houses built on sand crumble and Isaiah ups the ante by pointing out that even lofty cities can be tumbled.
But our Christian journey is not an “either or” situation, rock or sand, mighty city or empty wasteland. As a pilgrim people the Church traverses both sand and rock, both fertile field and raging river. The question is not where are we standing but how are we rooted. All three readings today counsel us to be rooted in the Lord and to make our belief productive through acts of justice and fidelity.
This is the season of Advent, a time to look to our spiritual foundations both as individuals and as a Church. As a pilgrim people we face a paradox: our roots must be deep but our feet must be free. We can only accomplish this if we are rooted in the Lord and if our feet walk the path of justice. This holy time is the season of renewal as we await the birth of the Lord as well as Christ’s final coming. The Psalmist speaks of the “Gates of Justice” and pleads that they be opened. We both construct and open these gates through our own acts of justice, both mighty and simple. If the gates need repair or if we have to erect new gates in a different place now is the time to begin again that process.
By Ray Bucko