2 December 2010 Thursday of the 1st Week of Advent
Isaiah 26: 1-6; Psalm 118; Matthew 7: 21-27
Trust has always been an issue in many aspects of our lives. We trust a product because of previous experiences. We have shared our experiences of durability. We are given a year’s warranty just in case we are dissatisfied with it. But with people, trust is a precarious word: sometimes a friend whom we trust, betrays us. The very people whom we have hoped and relied on suddenly bails out on us. Who then can be trusted?
Psalm 118 is today’s responsorial psalm. It says:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
It is better, therefore, to trust the Lord than any other. All others will break their promises; but the Lord will keep His word. Take for example the people of Israel. Once they were exiled, the Lord promised their return to their homeland. In Isaiah, that promise has been fulfilled. Christianity is basically a religion based on a promise: the covenant of Yahweh and Abraham. Thus the Old Testament are collections of stories of the Lord promising salvation and fulfilling it in the New Testament with the birth and life of Jesus. The Lord keeps his promises. And therefore, the Lord is the only sure one to be trusted with our life.
Our human experiences can teach this truth. When it is life-threatening, we turn to the Lord. When it is crucial, we put all our life on the altar of the Lord. When it is a turning-point, we cry out for mercy.
Take for example many ordinary battles. Usually we neglect to pray. We move on from one class to the other. We go to and fro from home to workplace. Nothing much happens.
But when an exam is announced and we know that the grade will determine our quest for the top or the maintenance of our scholarship, we find ourselves almost automatically on our way to the chapel. Bar examinees who were neglectful of faith life suddenly find themselves attending mass or lighting a candle on the altar of St. Jude or Sta Rita de Cascia who are patrons of the impossible. The cynical and arrogant student is suddenly transformed into piety.
The same thing with me and many others at the brink of illness. Or those waiting for a job abroad or a favorable response to an application for acceptance. It is the same thing when we expect a change in status such as facing an uncertain future. In the duration of waiting, our hearts are restless. And as St. Augustine puts it: it should rest in God.
It is not an accident therefore that the Gospel is about the house built on rock. In the midst of our storms, a strong faith foundation is what saves us. In other words, a great trust in the Lord will keep us grounded. With the Lord, as St. Paul says, who can separate us from Him?
But we have to build our foundations well. Let me end with story.
An excellent carpenter decided to retire. After years of helping out a housing company, he would like to spend the rest of his life with his wife. His children are already settled, and he thought retiring was the best option for all the years of hard work.
His employer was saddened by his decision. So he requested the carpenter to make his last house. The carpenter half-heartedly built the foundations, nailed the beams and put up the walls. His work was not best. After all, it was his last.
When the house was built, his employer came to his house. The employer thank the carpenter for a job well-done. And as a gesture of gratitude, the employer handed him the key to the house he just built!
In today’s mass, let us remember that we build our house everyday. Every nail we hammer, every beam we put up and every wall we build will determine the sturdiness of the house.
Our relationships are built on trust. There is no meaningful relationship without trust. The foundation of our lives determine our capacity not just to survive our storms, but to find meaning and joy in our lives.