By Shane Mulvihill

When I was young, my parents had rocks lining our flowerbeds. The rocks were a great way to prevent weeds from growing up where the flowers were, but they also presented another unique opportunity: collecting. My rock collection was probably the first thing I decided to collect. I would later discover the joys of coin and trading card collecting, but as a five-year-old without any money, rocks were certainly the most feasible. I can remember spending hours in the yard sifting through the rocks and quite literally leaving no stone unturned to find the perfect set of rocks to keep in my collection. The collection started small, but expanded to include beautiful geodes bursting with color and sparkling minerals that looked like gold.

I am not the only one who seemed to be fascinated with rock, the readings quite often refer to rock, especially building upon rock. Jesus tells the parable of the wise man who built his house on rock and the foolish one who built on sand. He later proclaims that Peter is the rock on which He will build His church.

On the surface, the metaphor is obvious: rock is sturdy and sand is not.

Rock can withstand assault, while sand crumbles easily. Without digging any deeper, the message is that we must all seek to attach to rock, that is Jesus and the Church. Not entirely a bad message as we should all continue to seek the greater glory of God, but what hope is offered to those who built on sand? Are they doomed to be swept away?

I want to be that person who built on rock and remain anchored to God, but let’s face it, there are times when I attach myself to things that are not Godly and I find myself perched on the sand. I am here to say that there is hope!

Do not be discouraged if you find yourself on sand.

If you remember back to elementary science class, there are three types of rock; igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Sedimentary might be the most interesting of all the different types. Rather than coming from the molten beginnings of the other two, sedimentary rock is created by sand and sediment fusing together over the course of time. It is unique because different time periods can be identified by the layers seen in the rock. The layers are a reflection of the environment at that time.

I think that the rock that we are called to build upon is sedimentary. It is continually being formed by our experiences of faith. When I am faced with a sandy situation in life I am faced with two options. If I cannot stand up to pressure, the weather washes the sand away. Conversely, if I can withstand the pressure and make good choices, I add to my rock.

My experience of faith is not defined by one single event.

There is no experience, sacramental or otherwise, that can fully form my rock. I am called to continually build my rock by the experiences of faith every day. When I do this, my rock itself becomes a beautiful collection of layers that I can continue to build on.

Like homes built near the beach, I must dig deep down and attach to my rock to ensure I am not swept away. That beautiful collection of experiences will anchor me to God. I don’t lose all the good choices I made with one bad one. I can always dig deep and return to God.

During this season of Advent, let us continue to deal with the sand of life and expand our rock. By expanding our rock, and continually choosing God, we grow closer to Him.




Shane Mulvihill spends his days saving vision as a pediatric optometry resident at Ohio State. He loves helping kids succeed by making sure they can see and going into schools to teach about eyes. He spends his "free time" exploring the world with his wife Kara. Some day they will accomplish their goal to visit a zoo in every state in the USA. 

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