Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, priest
(Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 5:21.24-27)
It is said that since the great Chicago fire at the end of the nineteenth century all buildings in that city have been constructed with brick. Like Isaiah’s rock in the first reading today, brick is stronger than wood and cannot burn. Rock goes even further in providing security and stability. God is more trustworthy than either.
In the gospel Jesus answers the logical question of how we are to trust in God. The passage ends his famous “Sermon on the Mount” where he has outlined the New Law. That law produces righteousness where the Law of Moses fails because it addresses motives, not just effects. Followers will keep their eyes on the prize of heaven. They will not only limit themselves to a “tooth for a tooth” but forswear revenge altogether. They will not only avoid adultery but refrain from looking lustfully. They will not only perform righteous acts but do so in private to assure purity of intention. Observing the New Law means placing ourselves in God’s fortress of rock. Come fire, hurricanes, earthquakes, or high water, God will keep us safe.