“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. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone then who hears 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 beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Do you know the story of The Three Little Pigs? It is one of Aesop’s more famous fables. Three little pigs built houses for themselves. One built it using straw, another built it using sticks, and the third built it using bricks. A big bad wolf came to the first pig’s house built out of straw and he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down. He then went to the second pig’s house and he huffed and he puffed and he blew this house down too. But when he came to the third pig’s house, no matter how much he huffed and how much he puffed, he couldn’t get the house to fall, because this house was build with solid brick.
Now, I know the moral of the fable is absolutely evident to everybody who reads it. To understand Jesus’ teaching today, all we gotta do is think of The Three Little Pigs, who are so representative of us today, and of the the Big Bad Wolf who is representative of the devil. Peter advises us to “be alert and sober at all times because our enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (cf. 1 Peter 5:8). He’s huffing and he’s puffing, trying to blow our houses down. And if our houses are not solid they will fall down and he will devour us. So how do we make our houses strong? By building them on rock.
What does that mean? Jesus explains: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Matthew 7:24). James expounds: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:22-25).
Paul gives us another clue about the rock itself. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he writes (and I paraphrase): “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder. But every one should build with care because you can’t lay a foundation other than one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. One day this will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Jesus has to be the foundation of our houses, which of course, is a euphemism for our lives. Which means he has to be the Lord of our lives.
It isn’t enough that we say, “Yes, Lord!” We have to do what he asks us to do. But unfortunately, we tend to be very selective about what we do, don’t we? If it suits us, we are only too happy to do what he asks, but if it doesn’t, Jesus could take a hike. The danger is that WE might be the ones taking a hike — to a destination we would rather not go to. As Jesus says in today’s reading, “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.”
The wolf is at our doors. How strong is your house?