Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?
The House on the Rock & The Unfinished Tower
[Matt. 7:24-27 & Lk. 14:28-30]
St. Basil, one of the three ‘ecumenical hierarchs’ of the Orthodox Church, is called ‘the Great.’ Considering his teachings on the doctrine of the Trinity, his establishment of the monastic rule, and his devotion to charitable work, it is not hard to see why. But the most important reason he is called ‘Great’ is because Jesus said that the faithful should be.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:19)
This is a clear exhortation to strive to follow in the footsteps of St. Basil. It is likewise a warning to all of us who have not allowed our hands and feet to follow our lips in devotion. Jesus also makes this message clear in the form of a parable about two builders. It is a comparison that is simple but instructive.
Two men hear the word of God, but only one also acts on it. He is then likened to a wise artisan who builds on a secure foundation of rock. This might well remind us of one of the several instances in scripture where sound faith is shown to depend on secure groundwork. St. Paul, for instance, declares
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 3:11)
There is an irony in this, however, as St. Paul was fully aware. This very bedrock can prove to be a stumbling block to those who do not recognize the Cross of the despised Christ as the center of our faith.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Ps. 118:2).
The foolish builder of our parable, on the other hand, builds only on sand. We might think here of the sand in an hourglass, a fitting symbol of our earthly life passing away. We certainly do not want to establish our lives on such shifting building blocks, waiting for the storms to tumble us down.
Rains. Floods. Winds. These vivid images capture the trauma of life’s challenges and difficulties. We all experience them. And it is then that the test comes of how well we have planted our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.
Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them. (Ps. 32:6)