Thursday December 2, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week of Advent
Reading (Isaiah 26:1-6) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:21, 24-27)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading today that if we listen to His words and we put them into practice then that is like building our house on rock; and if we do not listen to His words, or if we listen to them and do not put them into practice, then we are trying to build our house on sand. This is of great importance for us when we stop to think about the fact that we can say, “Oh, I believe,” but we do not practice what we believe, we give lip service to the Lord but we do not really live the faith that we profess. The Lord tells us that is like building our house on sand; there is no solid foundation.
If we look at what we hear in the first reading, we hear the words: Trust in the Lord, for the Lord is an eternal rock. God is the only person in the Old Testament who is ever called a rock, and that is where our house is to be built. Now Jesus, in the New Testament, is also a rock and He gives to Saint Peter a share in the office of king and shepherd. He tells Peter, You are rock, and on this rock I will build My Church. We see that Jesus founded His Church on a rock, and that rock, who is Peter, has been given a share in the very office of Christ Himself. So the rock ultimately is still the Lord.
If that is the case, then we have the guarantee that our faith is firmly founded on rock and that the teachings of the Church are founded on rock. It does not matter what happens, the Church is not going to collapse because the teachings are true and there is no possible way that the devil is going to be able to destroy the Church, try as he may. We can look at what is going on in the world at present and we can say that against the Church the winds are blowing pretty hard, the rains are falling heavily, the house is being buffeted. Yet it does not fall. Again, the Lord never said that the rains are not going to fall on the house, nor will the winds blow against it. No, He tells us that the winds are going to come and the rains are going to fall, but He also tells us that as long as it is built on solid rock it is going to stand.
We too have to have our house built on solid rock. It must be built on the faith of the Church because that is what the Lord has already built on rock. Saint Paul tells us that no one can lay another foundation other than the one that has already been laid. That foundation, of course, is Jesus; and then upon Him are the apostles. And so the Church is built upon the apostles, particularly upon Peter, and Peter is built upon Christ. So at the foundation is solid rock, two courses of it in fact: Jesus and Peter. We have to have our house built firmly upon that rock. If we try to build it upon anything else, it is going to crash. What that means is if we like to pick and choose what the Church teaches (or what we want to believe about what the Church teaches), we do not have our house built on the rock. It is built on sand. It can look real nice, but there is nothing there because it cannot stand when the winds blow against it and when the floodwaters come – which they will. Everything in the Church works together. You cannot have a building which is missing a whole bunch of bricks and all kinds of other parts that are necessary for it to stand, so too with the Church. If we want to decide, “I don’t want to believe this and I don’t want to believe that,” it is like taking bricks out of the building. It is going to crash. Sometimes it is like lifting the building itself right off the foundation and setting it somewhere else. And, of course, because there is only one rock foundation, if we set it anyplace else it is going to fall. Instead of being part of the Church that Jesus built, we are trying to build our own and it does not work.
There is only one Church of Jesus Christ, and if we want to be part of that Church then we have to be built on rock. If we are built on rock, then that means we are in line with everything the Church teaches. If we are out of line, then we are building our own little house. It is not going to stand because it is not built on rock. The Lord is very clear; it is not enough to be able to say, “Lord, Lord,” but then pick and choose what we want. Only the one who does the will of My heavenly Father…, He says. So if we want to do the Will of His heavenly Father, it is to believe in Him and to believe in everything He has taught, and to be fully – one hundred percent – aligned with His Church, to truly be a living stone in this building that is built on the Lord Himself and upon the foundation that He Himself laid. Anything else is being built upon sand. So we can choose to do our own thing, or we can choose to do what He has done. He makes it very clear that if we are going to do our own thing, the house is going to collapse; but if we are built on Him, on solid rock, if we are firmly founded on Peter and on the teachings of the Church, then let the winds blow and let the rains come – it is not going to matter – all that it will prove is that the house is solid and it will not collapse. As long as we have our house solidly built on Jesus Christ and on the teachings of the apostles, we have nothing to fear. Trust in the Lord, for He alone is an eternal rock.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.