Sermoncitos, a family tradition




  To understand my brother, you need to understand the concrete foundation of his life.

Concrete has been a foundational building material for thousands of years. My father was a pioneer in the application of scientific research to measure the integrity of various admixtures of concrete. My brother worked along side him in the creation of a new career field, quality control of concrete, along with the development of standards and processes for designing mixes for specific purposes.

Concrete forms by a chemical process as various natural geological ingredients are crushed, cleaned, combined, stirred, and compressed. Each ingredient in the aggregate is measured and mixed to create a new form - sand, gravel, water, cement - none has the consistency and integrity of the final product. A well designed mix results in the color, texture, weight, and strength demanded by the purpose.

Whereas cones and Kelly Balls are used in the field to check the mixture as it is freshly poured, the measure of the final product is done in the laboratory with controls of humidity, temperature, time, and compression. Samples from the mixture are gathered from a job site, tamped tightly into cylindrical cardboard molds, and cured in a special room. Periodically over the next month technicians place these concrete cylinders, one at a time, into a crusher that measures the amount of compression required to produce cracks. The stronger the batch, the more stress is applied, resulting in assurance of quality and a guarantee of the durability and safety of a wall, building foundation, road, or bridge.

The last parable of the Sermon on the Mount refers to a house built on a foundation of sand or rock. We know that you can’t place a house on shifting sands or slippery rocks and expect it to stay, it has to be fastened firmly to a solid foundation. Today’s building codes require well designed and cured concrete that meets standards and passes the tests of the laboratory. Jesus was comparing the relative strength of foundational building materials to the processes used in creation; whether of the earth with its myriad geological formations, or the formation of character. Those who build upon a firm foundation can withstand the tests that creation brings upon us all.

We become aware that the Creator loves us enough to try to get our attention when the compression of increasingly powerful stresses on our body, mind, and soul remind us of our mortal condition and drive us to turn to God for understanding, comfort, or healing. What feels like a test may well be a test. In the case of my brother, he was tested long and hard, each sample from the batch submitted to greater stress; and every test proving him to be prepared, powerful, and resilient. He disciplined his life to the codes that created heaven and earth. He met the standards and passed the tests.

My brother constructed the concrete foundation of his life with an aggregate of sand (family), gravel (knowledge), water (covenants), and cement (atonement) that were thoroughly crushed, cleaned, combined, stirred, and compressed in a carefully controlled environment, and tested for quality. He is one who received the teachings of Jesus and “doeth them”; like a wise man who built his house upon a concrete foundation, “and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”