Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32
I set before you today a blessing and a curse.
Psalm 31:2-4, 17, 25
In you, O Lord, I take refuge.
Romans 3:21-25, 28
We are justified by faith apart from the observance of the law.
Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on rock.
Background on the Gospel Reading
All along the Sermon on the Mount has been about how to be a true follower of Jesus. It now comes to an end with a reflection on what our words and deeds really mean. Just because we say we are followers of Jesus and cry out “Lord, Lord” does not mean we are true followers. We may even be able to do powerful deeds in Jesus' name. But in the end Jesus will be the real judge of who is a true follower.
It will not just be a question of hearing Jesus' words but of acting on them as well. Both people building a house in the final parable have heard Jesus' words in the Sermon just completed. But only the one who acts on them builds on rock. The situation is typical of Palestine where during the dry season not a drop of rain falls and the ground is dry and hard everywhere. But when the rains come rivers appear. Floods gush down the dry wadis and houses built on the sandy soil are washed away. Only those built on solid rock remain.
For centuries Christians have been debating just how we are to understand the Sermon on the Mount. Is it really meant to be taken seriously? What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Are we really supposed to turn the other cheek? give our coat to someone who asks for our shirt? Yes. But in the end each of us needs to work out the details. It is more than saying “Lord, Lord.” It is more than performing great deeds in Jesus' name. It is building our life on the rock that is Jesus himself. In him the Law and the prophets are fulfilled, and the will of God is fully revealed.