BUILDING A HUMANITY WITHOUT FOUNDATION
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [IS 26:1-6; PS 118:1,8-9,19-21,25-27; MT 7:21,24-27 ]
The world is in such a confused state. Leaders no longer lead but obey the sheep. This is what democracy is all about – do what the people say, not what is good for the future of the country or the organization. Give them what they want, even though it might hurt them in the long run. But then we do not have to worry because we will no longer be leaders by then. Then again, we cannot blame the leaders of the day entirely because the world has been bought over by this ideology which we call ‘relativism’. This philosophy claims that everything is relative except, of course, relativism itself.
The dictatorship of relativism is the cause of much confusion in the world today. With relativism, nothing has any real foundation or ground to support. There is no truth by which we all can agree on. It all depends on who speaks the loudest and makes the most noise so that others will buy into their ideas or ideology. Relativism is fueled also by mass media and digital technology. Ideas and views spread widely. As a result, we have an overload of information. Much of the information is fake news and they are often innocently passed around without verification.
With a diarrhea of information available, not all of which can easily be verified, it is no wonder why pragmatism has become the order of the day. Since we are paralyzed by so much information and choices, and lacking the time to weigh all the available data, we just have to choose at random according to our personal preferences and liking. Choices are made not based on whether it is right or true but whether it satisfies one’s needs and desires, even if they are detrimental to our future or when they infringe the rights of others.
Indeed, when we examine some of the trends of society, we cannot but lament the shortsightedness of those who formulated the policies. They are more concerned with fixing the problem now than being far-sighted to see whether the solution they propose will cause greater problems in the future. This is true in terms of population control. Many countries forced their people to stop at one or two children. Now these countries are facing depopulation and an aging demographic. The first world countries are now importing citizens and workers from so-called over-crowded countries in the third world. Has the world seriously considered the long-term implications of legalizing same-sex union, adoption of children by same-sex couples, euthanasia, cloning, etc? But leaders are desperate to please the people, notwithstanding the fact that such choices are often engineered through publicity and aggressive marketing.
Jesus warns us in today’s gospel that if our house is not built on solid foundation, then it will crash and it will be disastrous. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!” Indeed, today, we are called to examine the fundamental principles that can help humanity and grow the country. If what we build is not based on lasting principles, then we will find ourselves having to keep changing our goal post to suit us. We will just go where the wind blows. We change with the tide and we are swept along by societal trends. Instead of molding and steering society, we allow society, which is blind, to lead us. We have no direction in life. We have no focus and without any shared values there is nothing that can bring everyone together. But values must be true and good, otherwise they cannot be valued.
So we might be doing many things and yet not achieving anything that is really good. That is why Jesus warned us about self-deception. He said, “It is not those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Just praying and calling ourselves Catholic will not lead us to heaven. Just saying that we are not justified by good works but by faith alone will not lead us to happiness. Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'” (Mt 7:22f) Indeed, we can be doing many things, but without focus or direction, such works will do us no good. This is what many are doing even in Church. They are involved in all kinds of activity but they do not pray, they are not conscious of their roles and responsibilities, their alignment with the parish and the diocesan vision; their objectives in the work they do. So we have many do-gooders but they are blind. They just do what they have been told but they are not motivated by a higher vision and goal.
As Christians, we are focused in all that we do. Our foundational principles are clear. We know who we are, what we are called to do and where our final destiny lies. We know that God is the Ultimate Ground of life. We know that God has revealed Himself to us through His Son in the Holy Spirit. We know that we are called to be sons and daughters of God to share in the divine life. “But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Phil 3:20) Until then, we must fight the good fight. “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” (Tit 2:11-14)
Indeed, our values are founded on Eternal truths because they come from Christ who is the Word of God in person. He is our rock. Jesus said, “Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.” He said these concluding words at His Sermon on the Mount. In other words, Jesus is inviting us to place our total trust in His Word, the values that He preached. The fundamental values of life are beautifully summed up in the Beatitudes, which is the preface to the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount. The beatitudes are the keys to a blessed life. Some of these foundational values taught by the Lord are humility and poverty of spirit, holiness and purity of life, mercy and compassion, charity and justice, love and forgiveness, peacemaking and prophets for truth. These are the principles that Christians live by.
Not only is Jesus our rock, He is our fortress as well. The prophet said, “We have a strong city; to guard us he has set wall and rampart about us.” The wall of Jesus, which is His word, shields us from the attack of our enemies, especially in the face of attack and false doctrines and undesirable values that come into our lives. St Paul wrote, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16f) He also reminded the Christians that “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, (is) the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15) Besides being the wall of defence, God is the one that gives us an overview and fuller perspective of life. This is what it means to say that God is our rampart, which is that part on top of the wall of a castle where there is a walkway for the soldiers to see from afar anyone who is approaching the city. In this way, we will have the foresight to see far and near the outcome of the policies that we formulate for our people.
The psalmist invites us, let us place our entire trust and confidence in Jesus, our rock and fortress, “Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord is the everlasting Rock; he has brought low those who lived high up in the steep citadel; brings it down, brings it down to the ground, flings it down in the dust: the feet of the lowly, the footsteps of the poor trample on it.” Indeed, because Christ is our rock and fortress, we are called to build our lives on Him. Only by trusting in Him, can we win victory.
So today, let us delay no longer. With the psalmist we pray, “Open to me the gates of holiness: I will enter and give thanks. This is the Lord’s own gate where the just may enter. I will thank you for you have answered and you are my saviour.” If our minds are focused on the Lord, our hearts will be at rest because we know He will help us to fight this battle. With upright heart and upright life, we march on with confidence and peace. Putting into practice what the Lord teaches us is what ultimately matters. “Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock.”
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online, nor will they be available via email request.