Jesus told His disciples a parable about two houses, one built on sand and one built on solid rock (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49). Both houses are battered by a severe storm with strong winds and flash flooding. The one built on sand cannot withstand the storm. It collapses and is destroyed. The one built on solid rock, while it suffers stress, and perhaps some damage, survives and remains a stable home.
Jesus reminds us that trials, difficulties, and struggles come into everyone’s life. We live in a fallen world tainted by sin, so it is unrealistic to expect a carefree life. Therefore, it is important to build one’s life on a solid and firm foundation. It is the only way to endure and survive the challenges of life. It is the way to thrive in the midst of them.
This teaching is an essential guide to face the tensions and hurts that mar our family life and friendships, the disagreements and strains that arise at work and in our neighborhoods, the discord and factions that arise from political and social unrest.
The solid and firm foundation of our life must be total dedication to Jesus and a firm adherence to His teachings.
Jesus alone is our Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6). While we experience truth from different perspectives, it does not mean that there are many valid versions of truth; it does not mean that truth is subjective or that truth can change. Jesus alone offers us the truth that completely conforms to objective reality. His abiding truth is the only way that leads to eternal life.
By studying and reflecting on Jesus’ teachings and commandments, we conform our mind and heart to the truth. His wisdom guides us how to choose correctly when weighing options. He teaches us how to discern right from wrong. He guides us in rejecting “alternate truths” and “alternate facts.”
By attuning our spiritual ears to the voice of Jesus, God’s promise to guide us to eternal joy is fulfilled: “When you would turn to the right or the left, your ears shall hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).
This is practically embodied in Catholic moral principles. While it is impossible to briefly summarize Catholic moral teaching, there are key points that we constantly need to remember and practice.
For an act to be truly good, all aspects of it must be good: the act itself, our intention for acting, and all the circumstances and effects surrounding the act. If any of these are bad, then choosing this act is wrong and evil.
Intention cannot change an evil act into a good act. We should always act with the intention of bringing about what is right and just; however, a good intention cannot justify doing evil. For example, we should honor our commitments, but needing to pay our rent or mortgage does not justify stealing.
A good end or good purpose does not justify evil means. We all set goals. We should do this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who reveals our path to holiness. Just as a goal must be good, the means employed to reach this goal must also be good. For example, we may pursue a college degree to help advance our career, but cheating on tests and plagiarizing papers to obtain a diploma is evil.
How do we build a life on solid rock? By not being a disciple of Jesus in name only, but by authentically living the truth: being a disciple in every thought, word, and deed.
By Father Jerome Tauber, Vicar for Religious and Chaplain for St. Luke’s Hospital – Bethlehem Campus.