Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr
(II Kings 24:8-17; Matthew 7:21-29)
A few years ago a man owning a two hundred year-old house in New England visited Rome. He was bragging a bit about his historic home in the States when it occurred to him that the building in which he was standing went back five hundred years!
In the gospel today Jesus names the condition for a house to remain standing in perpetuity. He says that it must be built upon rock and not upon sand. Of course, he is not concerned about buildings but about people. He means to tell us that if people seek fulfillment in eternal life -- or a fulfilling regular life for that matter -- then they should base their lives upon his words. Doing all that he commands in the Sermon on the Mount, which he completes in today’s reading, will assure his assistance in weathering any storm.
The first reading offers a demonstration of what Jesus is getting at. The dynasty to which Jehoiachin belongs falls because of lack of attention to the word of God. As the reading says, Jehoiachin and his forbears “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Interestingly, dynasties are frequently called “houses” probably because the accumulated wealth is passed along from ancestor to descendant as if it were stored in a house. Anyway, if dynasties are to survive, just as if individuals are to find fulfillment, their inheritors must practice justice.