The Invulnerable City

First Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm: Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27
Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

The first reading is a hymn Isaiah wrote for choral groups, for communities, and for nations to sing. He included in it no arias to be rendered by individuals or by soloists. In it he peers into the future, gazes into the Messianic age and there, envisions the population of Jerusalem joyously acclaiming the protective strength of the city’s walls and ramparts. They are impregnable walls and invulnerable ramparts built by the Lord and able to repel the fiercest assaults.

In the gospel today, Jesus is bringing the Sermon on the Mount to a close. In the Sermon he has talked about his values, how they bring us beyond the spirituality of the Old Testament, and how they contradict the values of the world in which we live. The beatitudes are dazzling; they startle us, and turn the world’s values on their head. The traditional commandments, seen new by Christ, free us from legalism. It allows our hearts to soar to new heights in our efforts to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect.

Before he closes his sermon, Jesus brings us down and sets our feet firmly on the ground with his parable of the house built on sandy soil and the house built on rock. Singing the praises of Jesus’ teaching, admiring its beauty and at the insights it provides us, in itself is building on sandy soil. We hit hard rock when we live his teachings in everything we do each day.

Advent is a time for us to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord on Christmas, to examine our values and our value-systems, and to ask ourselves is there need to reorganizing our priorities. It is also the time to ask ourselves if Christ’s values are evident to others in every act we perform each day.

Advent is also the time for us, as a community and as a nation, to review and reprioritize our national values, and to ask ourselves if God’s values are evident in the way we run our country.

God and Christ and their values are the rock on which we build our Christian lives.

“Lord, you are my Rock and my Refuge. Help me to conform my life according to your word that I may stand firm in times of trouble and find hope in your promises.”