Back in the day when lords and ladies were more of a thing, their titles held authority. The peasants listened to and obeyed the lord. (It may not have been a willing consent, but that is irrelevant for this article.) The lord ruled the house in the 1300’s. While we don’t embrace the feudal system any longer, the question Jesus asks in this Gospel is still pertinent – why do we call him Lord but not follow his commands? Better yet, why do I call him Lord and not follow his commands? I can’t control others, but I can control me.
We can know a tree by its fruit and a good fruit-bearing tree has a strong root system below the surface. I want good fruit to come from me, but like the person in the Gospel today, it seems my roots are shallow and my house isn’t built on bedrock. Too often the wind and waves threaten its stability. Too often I fall prey to despair and frustration. Too often I think I know best. Thus, the answer to the question “why do I call him Lord but not follow his commands?” Pride.
There is good reason why it’s considered the root of evil and is the base of Dante’s purgatory. Pride leads to stubbornness and laziness. It fosters arrogance. It steals trust and trust is important. I thought I had my house built deep enough but when Covid got going, the house started shaking. For many of us the current state of our society is the clichéd perfect storm – pandemic, riots, contentious presidential election and quarantine. Loads of uncertainty about what is real and what is ahead plus good old-fashioned fear have, I suspect, shuddered many of our foundations. Why didn’t we follow his commands? We’d be better off now instead of wallowing in this tide of torpor and sea of unsettledness.
Here’s what I realized: it doesn’t matter why. The why isn’t as important as the fact that the choices I made led me here. I have a choice- free will given generously to me as a beloved daughter of God. You have the same choice. I can choose to berate myself for not building a strong enough house. After all I know what I need to do to keep my interior life in order so I can weather the storms. I can make up excuses. I can blame the world. It won’t change the feeling of being unmoored or the sense of disquiet.
Or, I can acknowledge that I messed up (again), come humbly before Jesus and ask for forgiveness. God is astoundingly merciful. I can turn to him in my struggle and he will help me get grounded again. He will help me with that foundation so that I am prepared for the next storm because friends, the storms will keep coming, but we don’t have to have our peace rocked every time.
God is God and his love is big and merciful and if I ask for forgiveness he will send his grace. If I commit to following his commands and ask for his help, things will get better.
Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. She loves finding God in the silly and ordinary. She writes for Ascension Press, Catholic Mom, and her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is expected to be released summer 2021. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org