Isaiah 26: 1-6
Matthew 7: 21, 24-27
I can imagine people along the East Coast, especially those on the Jersey and New York coastline, reading today’s gospel story. Hurricane Sandy rolled over their coastal towns and destroyed houses and buildings, even those that had strong foundations. Some homes were built on pilings, legs going down through the sand to a solid foundation. The pilings lifted the homes up five to ten feet above ground to protect the house from flooding. Even these precautions didn’t defend them from the monster hurricane. Sandy came on shore with several feet of surge and during high tide.
John Steinbeck wrote in "Of Mice and Men" the often used quote: "The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry." No matter how well you plan something, expect the unexpected. George and Lennie, characters in Steinbeck’s novel, were always making plans to get out of their hopeless situation, but the plans, whether big or small, seemed to go wrong for them.
We know that Jesus was not actually talking about houses built on sand or rock. Jesus was speaking about how we set foundations for our lives. What values guide us; what goals are important to us; what motivates our decisions? It is better to build a house on rock rather than sand, but it is more important to build our lives on lasting values.
We can have well thought-out plans for our life, the best of advisors and consultants to talk with, but no plan or person can defend us against the unforeseen, the unfairness of life, or a tragedy that we never even imagined could happen.
Put your trust in Jesus. Make Jesus the fundamental foundation of your life. Violent winds can blow away your dreams, surges can quickly destroy your plans and high tides can drown you in fear and anxiety. Our Advent prayer is, "Come, Lord Jesus." We pray that Jesus blesses our plans and our dreams. When they fail or are destroyed, we pray that Jesus strengthen us that we not become pessimistic or cynical. We pray for the encouragement to continue on, to look for a Plan B or a Plan C, never giving up on God’s love for us as expressed in the birth of Jesus Christ. "Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock."
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.