The deadly earthquake took many lives and damaged many buildings in Christchurch in New Zealand. The disaster affected people of different age, race, beliefs; poor and rich alike; believers and non-believers. The Anglican Cathedral became a symbol of the catastrophe. In some way it’s also an unspoken question about God in such horrible event.

Five weeks ago we listened to the Beatitudes. That’s the beginning of ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ – three chapters of St Matthew’s gospel containing the moral teaching of Jesus. For the next four Sundays we heard about selfless love, merciful understanding, unconditional sacrifice and heartening forgiveness – very demanding and apparently impossible to keep from our everyday life experience. Today’s gospel is the final part – and it gives clear ultimate advice: ‘Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock’.

Jesus in today’s gospel uses an image of two houses attacked by a ferocious storm and flood. One building weathered the disaster while the other collapsed. Seemingly both had been built in similar way; the only difference was the ground they had been built on. This image has very simple and obvious meaning. Jesus offers every one of us a choice: ‘I set before you today a blessing and a curse; a blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord’. The choice is very personal. The only person that can make a decision is you.

The decision to follow Jesus’ teaching doesn’t guarantee an easy, trouble-free life for a believer. Everybody experiences adversities, obstacles and hardships as both houses from the parable were affected by the elements. But the practised faith might give you internal strength to endure any disaster.