The Rock of Christ

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Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the 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.” 
Opening Prayer: Lord God, I need your wisdom. Send your Holy Spirit to me so that I can listen closely to your words today and act on them, according to your will. 
Encountering Christ:

  1. “Lord, Lord!”: The road to perdition is paved with good intentions. Verse 21 conjures up the image of a poor fellow shut out of heaven’s gate, and afterward shouting “Lord, Lord!” I imagine him continuing, “But I tried my best!” Good intentions are not enough. Truly, our good intentions, even our best intentions, alone cannot save us. If not these, then what? By Christ’s merits, we are saved. All we have to do is “listen to these words of mine and act on them.” With his teachings about right conduct, which we are free to accept or reject, Christ gives us the reins of our destiny.
  2. Listen and Act: This Gospel passage comes at the end of the three chapters bursting with radical Christian teachings known as the Sermon on the Mount. Since St. Matthew has placed this exhortation to listen to “these words of mine” precisely here, we can say by extension that we are to listen to all that Christ says to us—in the Scriptures, in our prayer, in the liturgy. And after listening, we are to act. These are the two pillars of the Christian life—contemplation and charitable actions. Unfortunately, omitting one of the two (or emphasizing one at the expense of the other) sometimes happens to the best of us, and we can lose our way like those who build houses on sand. Let’s remember that Christ invites us to be like a wise man who values prayer and action, who both hearkens and helps.
  3. The Buffetting of the House: We human beings are notoriously frail at holding on to the good; this has been manifest since Original Sin, and our moral integrity has been buffeted by winds and storms ever since. But this sad truth is like a locked door whose key is Christmas. Christ came to earth to be our Savior! Once we realize that we are insufficient for our own salvation, the arrival of the Christ-child can be recognized as the joyous transforming event that it is. Without him, human history would have “collapsed and been completely ruined.” With him, it is “set solidly on rock.”

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I shudder to think of the possibility of a complete collapse—of my life in ruins. The wind and the rain frighten me! That’s why I call out your merciful name, “Lord, Lord,” when I feel overwhelmed. You turn your loving gaze on me, giving me the strength to drink in your words and put them into practice. Suddenly, fear is replaced with confidence as I remember that you are my Savior leading me on the path of wisdom.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend five extra minutes reflecting on your words in the Gospel and ask for inspiration to act according to your will.
For Further Reflection: Meditating on the book of Wisdom in the Old Testament can be a good way to prepare for Christ’s coming. 
Written by Br. Erik Burckel, LC.

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