Our Lord’s parable about the house built on rock brings me back to May of 1954 when I helped build a house that stayed in place through a typhoon.
It was a two-room house with a kitchen. The rooms were nine by nine, the kitchen nine by five. It called for eight end posts under each of which we sunk a big round stone from the stream bed. Peter Choi and his wife and baby were to have one room and Paul Kim and his young wife the other. They would operate their radio and photography shops out of both rooms.
I was there with Peter and Paul for digging the three-foot-deep holes for the rocks and poles, but just Paul and I were up there for thatching the roof. Peter had taken his wife Theresa to her parents’ house to have their baby. That’s when the typhoon hit. The deluge roaring down from the high mountains took out all the houses in the village of Theresa’s parents, and she had the baby high on a hillside. Half our water-soaked church hill slid down, taking with it the police barracks beneath us. But our little house on the eight buried stones held firm.
In Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount the equivalent of the eight stones we sunk into those holes were the main points Jesus made in the sermon: like not only avoiding murder and adultery, but avoiding anger and lust. Like not fasting or praying or giving alms to impress people, but doing them secretly only to please God, deepening our bond with him.