The scene in the first reading for today’s Mass is Isaiah speaking to a people in exile. It is a message that is surely suited to our Advent season as it is a message of Hope. Isaiah holds up a vision of a city built by God, echoing the Psalmist: “Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build” (Psalm 127:1) Isaiah promises the Lord will build the city, and at the same times outlines for the people their part of the labor. They are to live in righteousness in word and in deed.
These words are spoken to a people in the chaos, uncertainty, and amidst the feeling that perhaps God is either too angry with them for their transgressions, turning His back on them, or has abandoned them altogether. Yet, Isaiah calls them to be faithful and righteous – unrelentingly faithful.
Jesus’s words to the listeners are much the same. He is speaking to a people for whom “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house” might seem all too real and present. There at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus again calls them to action based on all that is contained in the “sermon.” (Matthew chapters 5-7): “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”
It is a call to that same unrelentingly faithful response to build a life, but not in vain. It is a call for us to consider the foundation, the rock, of the life we are building. May we listen to the words of Jesus and act upon them.