“ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK, I STAND, ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND…”
First Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 117(118):1,8-9,19-21,25-27
Gospel Reading: Matthew 7:21,24-27
Apparently, we have heard and seen cases of collapsed structures/buildings either during construction or shortly after construction, and sometimes also affecting other lives and properties around, owing to the poor building materials, resulting in a weak foundation, or building the structure on the wrong site/location where it shouldn’t have been built at first, of which after experiencing erosion or heavy storm, etc., it readily collapses. The same applies to our spiritual lives as well. If we do not live out the Word of God we hear on a daily basis, then we would be resting on a weak foundation (sinking sand), heading for a spiritual collapse in times of adversities, trials, tribulations, etc., and probably affecting the spiritual lives of those around us. The reverse would be the case if we put God’s Word into practice; here, we would be established upon Christ the Solid Rock, and remain firm in the time of adversities and trials. This was the backdrop upon which the 19th-century Christian hymn: “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” was written. Put differently, the author Edward Mote in 1834 penned down this hymn, referring to the Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders (see. Mt. 7:24-27), in connection with the metaphor of Christ as the Spiritual Rock (see 1 Corinthians 10:4). The refrain of that hymn: “On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…” can be said to summarize our today’s message.
Beginning with the first reading, we see a mixture of praise for the salvation that will take place, a confession of Judah’s inability to achieve deliverance on its own but by trusting in God’s intervention, and earnest prayer that God may quickly bring about the longed-for salvation. The phrase: “We have a strong city…” is the antithesis of the “ruined city” of Isaiah 24:7-16 as a result of Judah’s godlessness. In today’s first reading, the prophet foretells a strong city of Judah which the Lord set up wall and rampart to guard it, as a result of their trust in God. Here, God is denoted as the everlasting Rock, and that the proud before him would be brought low from the position they’d exalted themselves. Similarly, in today’s gospel reading, Jesus encourages us not only to listen to his words, but also to act on them, and he went on to tell the parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders. For Jesus, when we act on his words; that is, putting them into practice, we become established on him, the solid rock (foundation) of our spiritual life.
Dear friends in Christ, while we anticipate the coming of Christ in this season of Advent, we pray for the grace to continually remain firmly established on Christ the rock of our salvation, and following the examples of St. Francis Xavier whom we celebrate today. Because he firmly established himself on Christ the solid Rock, his legacies last forever. He is known as the greatest Roman Catholic missionary of modern times who was instrumental in the establishment of Christianity in India, the Malay Archipelago, and Japan. As a matter of fact, the areas he evangelized in India have remained Catholic to the present day. Vigorous and prolonged persecution in the 17th century did destroy the missions he founded in the Moluccas and Japan but only after thousands had died as martyrs. Even before his death, Francis Xavier was considered a saint, and he has been formally venerated as such by the Church since 1622. In 1927 he was named patron of all missions.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?