Founding our House upon the Rock

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
Founding our House upon the Rock
Saturday of the 3rd Week after Pentecost
12 June, 2010
Romans 3:28-4:3 ; Matthew 7:24-8:4


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

From my childhood, this particular parable (or illustration) of our Saviour about the house being built upon the rock, and the house being built on sand, has stuck with me because it is so vivid. As I have grown older and come to understand some basic principles of construction, and how things work in nature, I can see that if the foundation is not properly laid, then everything falls down that is built upon it when there is a disturbance. How many times have we seen this on news telecasts in more recent years when houses and villages in disasters have been swept away by various rainstorms, and the like. These things happen because either the foundations of the houses were non-existent, or they were on ground that was moving (unstable), instead of being properly founded. The people who suffer the greatest are the poorest because they generally cannot afford a good and solid foundation for their house.

There are important lessons for us here. The foundation (the rock) that our Lord is referring to is, in fact, Himself. He is saying to us that if we are going to survive in this life, then the foundation of our hearts and our lives must be built upon Him : our relationship with Him, our love for Him, our confidence in Him. Our Saviour says this because we are all passing through various sorts of storms in the course of our lives. We all face pain. We all face difficulties, slander, betrayal of one sort or another which are extremely painful for us. If we do not have our foundation of love for the Lord established and maintained well, then we are at great risk of falling down.

As long as our foundation is in Christ, and it is well maintained by our continuing relationship of love with Him, then we know who we truly are. We know what needs to be fixed, because the Lord reveals what needs to be repaired in our lives. We are prepared to let Him do the repairs in our lives because we trust Him. We know that He will make us into who He created us to be, and it will be good. When we are neglectful of our foundation, and when we are paying too much attention to ourselves and to the things that are done around us, and to the ways of the world in particular, then we are not only in great danger of becoming shaky, but also of falling down with a great fall in just the same manner as the house about which our Saviour is speaking. When the storms of life are attacking us, pounding and beating upon us, and one thing after another is happening to us, if we forget to turn to our foundation of protection in the Saviour, then we collapse.

The Apostle is confirming these words of our Saviour in his words to us today. He says that we are made righteous in the same faith which was Abraham’s. The faith of Abraham was in the Lord’s promise of future salvation, and it was rooted in a loving relationship with Him. The foundation of his faith was the hope that was rooted in his loving relationship with the Lord. The Law comes into being through the faith of Abraham, but it does not rule over the faith of Abraham. Rather, the Law, which is always governing us, is a Law that is a product of this loving relationship, and it describes how our lives ought to be, and how they will be if they are in harmony with the Lord. The Beatitudes that we just sang to the Lord in this Divine Liturgy are the words which introduce the very words that our Saviour gave to us today about the rock. Everything is summed up in these words which are the conclusion of His sermon on the mountain. The people understand that He is teaching them as One who has authority (and not just saying what someone else says).

The Lord descends the mountain and He s immediately confronted by a man with leprosy. The leper says to our Saviour : “‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’”. Our Lord replies : “‘I am willing’”. When we are using the word “will”, we must understand the act of the will. This is not merely the simple future tense which we have degenerated into in our modern use of English. The act of the will is involved in this willingness. The Lord will do it, and so He does do it. He brings healing to this leper. He says to the leper, in effect : “All right, do not say anything to anyone. Go to the priest, show yourself according to the Law for a witness that you have been healed”. In the Old Testament Law, it was understood that God did the healing. The leper went and did this. Our Lord is not living apart from the Law that He gave. He is living in the Law that He gave (which is not taken away from us, either). The Law is only (as I have said again and again) the expression of His love and how we live in response to that love, in harmony with that love, and in accordance with that love.

Let us ask the Lord to renew our love today so that we may trust Him more and more with our lives. May we lift up our hearts constantly to Him with the appeal of the leper : “‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’”. Knowing that the Lord does will to make us clean, let us allow Him to make us clean, to make us whole, to make us one with Him so that we may glorify Him in eternity, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.