On the national news last night I watched a reporter in St. Paul, Minnesota walking in the Mississippi River up to his knees. Happily, he was holding onto the post of a walkway that usually runs along the banks of the river but now, with all the rains, is partially submerged. He said there was potential for the river to rise six more feet before the flooding subsided. This was a graphic image of what has been happening in many parts of our country lately, in contrast to those states that are experiencing drought. I was happy that he was holding on to the structure because he was up to his knees in rushing water. It reminded me of vacations at the ocean where standing in knee-deep water when the waves were strong could topple me as the waves receded and the sand around my feet was washed back out with the tide.
In this morning’s gospel (MT 7:21-29) Jesus warns of the danger of building a house on sand rather than rock. This image can lead in many directions in our thinking. “His argument was rock solid,” someone might say. “God is my rock, a stronghold who gives me safety.” Even though we built lovely castles in the sand on those beaches as children, it took only one great wave or the rising tide to wash away the entire structure.
So the message is clear. Jesus doesn’t give his listeners a chance to misunderstand. He says, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and buffeted his house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
I have to ask myself this morning: How are my building skills? What preparation have I done for new construction? Will what I’m building last a lifetime? Are there renovations needed now that I’m able to make? Should I get some advice from a Master Builder? That might just be a good idea…