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.”
Even those of us that live outside the gulf coast and have never had to worry about how to make it through a hurricane know what it looks like to try and get ready. We’ve seen the dramatic reports of weather forecasts, the Technicolor radar images of the fury building in the Atlantic, cutting then to people running through the now-empty aisles of grocery stores then to houses being boarded up and long lines of cars heading north on the highway. The trouble is, for the most part, “getting ready” for the storm isn’t nearly as effective as “being ready.” While all of that preparation, the fortifying windows and propping things up, may be helpful if the storm’s not too bad, if it is, that plywood won’t make much of a difference. The foundation is the only thing that’s going to matter.
In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus gives the parable of the houses built on stone and on sand. Note that Jesus doesn’t qualify the parable with the word “if.” It’s a direct declaration that “the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.” We don’t wonder whether or not the storms will come in our lives, they will; it’s not a matter of “if,” but of “when.” It’s important, then, that we remember that it’s the foundation that’s important, not the paint, siding, or window dressings. When the storm comes, we can run around boarding up anything and everything, but if the foundation is shaky, the house isn’t going to make it through.
Our foundation is a matter of life and death. It’s the difference between being wounded and healing and being wounded and never recovering. The season of Advent is one of preparation for the coming Lord, our Savior. His light is one that shines in our hearts, even into the places we may prefer to keep dark. It sheds light on the footings of our lives and, hopefully, our faith. The light shows us where we are strong and where we are weak and allows us to shore it up before the storm comes because when they do come, we’ll know the difference between “getting ready” and “being ready.”