Drina House,
House built on the Drina river in Serbia,
Built in 1968
© Alamy

Drina House,
House built on the Drina river in Serbia,
Built in 1968
© Alamy

Gospel of 7 December 2023

The wise man built his house on a rock

Matthew 7:21,24-27

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’

Reflection on the river house

The photograph shows a house in Serbia which was built back in 1968 by a group of boys who wanted a spot to sunbathe while at the river. They constructed the house from wooden boards reclaimed from a nearby shed that had been destroyed. They used kayaks to get the material onto the rock, which stands in the middle of a fast flowing river. The house has a small room. While several severe storms and floods have wreaked havoc on and around the house over the last 50 years, the home has always stood firm and has never been destroyed… Because it was built on a rock!

The ‘house’ Jesus talks about in our Gospel today is our life. Nobody else can build our life for us: it is something we have to do ourselves (like the boys who made the river house). However, we must choose carefully what foundations we give to our house/life. Do we merely follow secular shifting trends and sands; or do we build on solid rock, on Christ’s teachings?

Entrusting ourselves to Jesus, listening to his word and trying to live his word, will provide a foundation for our lives that will enable us to withstand the great storms of life. As we all know, we need some solid ground under us as we go through life. Jesus presents himself as that solid ground.

Our Gospel reading today also makes another important point. Jesus refers to listening, speaking and doing. Jesus mentions those who ‘listen to these words of mine’, to those who say aloud, ‘Lord, Lord’, and to those who act on his words. When it comes to our faith, listening and speaking are important, but Jesus declares that listening and speaking on their own, without doing, have little or no value. Advent is a season when we are called in a special way to live all three: listen, speak and act.

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Christine Vanaken
Member
Christine Vanaken
6 months ago

“maar Jezus verklaart dat luisteren en spreken op zichzelf, zonder te doen, weinig of geen waarde hebben”. Het geloof zinder de werken is dood ! Jakobus 2:14-26. Als we niets doen, krijgen we ook niets.

Elizabeth Hampton
Member
Elizabeth Hampton
6 months ago

Coming late to CA today I first read Nareen’s comment and was as much struck by the force of her words as the contemplation of today’s artwork. Going back over the foregoing page, however, completely confused the strong impression described above as the discussion seemed to have strayed into totally different territory which I couldn’t connect to today’s gospel and reflection. God seems to be telling us to adhere to firm foundations in order to fortify our faith and we will not go far wrong. Man’s inhumanity to man is always incomprehensible but still persists inexorably. All we can hope and pray is that humankind will see the error of its ways before it is too late and Advent is a time for hope and for renewing our faith with firm foundations ahead of a New Year and a time to change.

Nadeen Lester
Member
Nadeen Lester
6 months ago

Thank you for mentioning my commentary.
I intentionally chose to focus on the Gospel message and the illustration in my remarks. I’m very interested in the connection between the Word of God and art.

Nadeen Lester
Member
Nadeen Lester
6 months ago

Today’s photo reminded me of something I think about often.
There’s a chapel west of here, at the Catholic St Malo Retreat Center in Allenspark Colorado. It’s built on a rock. It’s a beautiful rustic place. Thirty years ago, in August 1993, Pope John Paul II prayed and said Mass there at the Chapel on the Rock.
One cloudy afternoon, when I was a young wife and mother, I went there and prayed very earnestly about things that were troubling me.
I was one of the people Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel, calling “Lord, Lord!” I was confused and upset — I thought life was treating me unfairly. I asked the Lord to help me, and He did. There was something He wanted me to know. I was so blessed that He even sent a thunderstorm to emphasize His teachings (because I forget sometimes ).
Awestruck by what I was experiencing, I listened to His words. Jesus gave me solid, sensible and unforgettable advice.
Gratefully, I try to apply that teaching to my life, to this day.

God is good! God is VERY good! If you ask for help and listen listen listen — well, what happens next will be between you and God.
You’re all in my prayers. Have a blessed day.

Elizabeth Hampton
Member
Elizabeth Hampton
6 months ago
Reply to  Nadeen Lester

Thank you for your strong assertion Nadeen. God Bless you, too and all those troubled souls who are suffering everywhere in the world.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
6 months ago

I have never been to Serbia…..but if this photograph is any indication, it surely is a beautiful land.
This photo is a good reminder for all of us to build our house on rock…….a foundation that withstands “the great storms of life”.

Today is 7 December, the Feast Day of St. Ambrose of Milan, who helped convert and then baptize St. Augustine of Hippo.
St Ambrose is one of the traditional Four Doctors of the Church…….along with St. Augustine of Hippo, St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius.

Matthew 16: 18
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

In St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the relic of the Chair of Saint Peter is enclosed in a sculpted gilt bronze casing designed by the amazing Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Chair, the Cathedra, is supported by the four over-lifesize bronze Doctors of the Church. An awesome sight.
St. Ambrose of Milan pray for us.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Awesome is the adjective Jamie

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
6 months ago

I love today’s photograph. Zoom in. Notice the concrete steps. The iron railing. May we help each other climb.
SFG and Janey M., what can I do to ease your pain?

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
6 months ago

Our Lady Queen of Palestine and of the Holy Land pray for all the people of the Mideast.

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