Our Lord spoke of the foolishness of those who build on sand. The collapse of many dwellings on New Jersey’s shore bear out his wisdom on that. Metaphorically speaking, we help children in building their lives on the solid rock of strong habits of prayer and study.
Pardon me for repeating the telling of an experience I had of building on stone. In May of 1954, in the Korean coastal town where I had just been assigned, there were many young men who slipped down from the north. At that time in South Korea young men were obliged to serve in the army up through the age of thirty-one. That had many of the refugees who had come south without any papers to claim to have just turned thirty-two. My parish had so many of those thirty-two-year-olds that we joked about forming a separate club for them.
Two thirty-two year old fellows, Paul and Pete, were building a house, and trying to lend a helping hand, I kept getting in their way. We hauled six huge boulders up from the river, and we dropped each of them into a two-foot hole where we were to settle a corner post. We had put in the floor and the walls, and finished binding down the roofing thatch, when a hurricane came in, shaking the little house this way and that, but not succeeding in knocking it over.
I had the good fortune to have spent my first twelve years of the priesthood in a Korean seaside farming place. I found that sharing in those simple surroundings made Our Lord’s parables real for me. Here in the States people who do gardening find it helps to bring the Gospels alive for them.