”The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” ~ Psalm 118:22 . . .
....and Matthew 21:42...and Mark 12:10.... and Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11 and yes, 1 Peter 2:7 for good measure as well.
Yes, we kick off today’s reflection with one of the New Testament’s most oft-repeated phrases, one in which Peter points to his best friend Jesus Christ, who was rejected, falsely accused, utterly demeaned and crucified by his own people for the “sin“ of preaching the truth. This despite the fact that God, the Chief Builder, chose him to be the capstone, the conduit through which His divine love, grace, and mercy would course through a smashed and sin-soaked world; He through whom the world would be saved. Paul evokes the same imagery in today’s 1st Reading (Ephesians 2:19-22): “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God,” he tells them, explaining that this sacred and holy household is “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.”
A nod to the Apostles is in order today in light of the fact that the Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saints Simon and Jude, two of the Twelve. Our Gospel today (Luke 6:12-16) reflects upon Jesus’ selection of the Twelve Apostles, a decision He made only after spending the night on the mountain in deep prayer with God the Father.
Paul concludes today’s passage by shedding additional light on the Church’s foundation relative to Jesus’ role: “Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.“
Through him and in him we are galvanized and congealed, growing in the precious gifts of the Spirit as vibrant members of Christ’s mystical body.
And if Jesus is the cornerstone, the Resurrection is in fact the cornerstone event, that single act which changed the course of the world and the eternal fate of everyone who ever walked it. Of this seminal moment in our Christian lives, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said ”Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered."
Over the years, many have asked why a good and gracious God would allow evil and sin to permeate the world, dominate it really. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen asserts that Jesus’ Resurrection answers this age old question. He points out that “Sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death." In other words, the Cross asks the question, the Resurrection answers it.
Of this finality, Saint Josemarie Escriva has this to say: “The Lord’s triumph, on the day of the Resurrection, is final. Where are the soldiers the rulers posted there? Where are the seals that were fixed to the stone of the tomb? Where are those who condemned the Master? Where are those who crucified Jesus? He is victorious, and faced with his victory those poor wretches have all taken flight. Be filled with hope: Jesus Christ is always victorious.”
A friend of mine recently told me of a Bible Study he once attended wherein the leader of the study told those in attendance that one should view the resurrection as a merely “symbolic act,” and that whether it really happened is “insignificant in the big picture.” As I quickly cane to the realization of what I would have done had I have been at that Bible Study, he concluded the story by telling me that he did what I would’ve done: He got up and walked out. After all, if one does away with the Resurrection, the belief that the Resurrection was a very real event that took place on a very real day in our history, doesn’t one also do away with the Cross? They stand ~ or fall ~ together, if they indeed fall, so too does the entire Gospel Message.
So rejoice, and give thanks to the God who sent His only begotten Son, He who would go on to be the Christ, the Savior, my ransom and yours. The King of Kings. Got cornerstone?
“Lord, death could not hold You. And because of You, the resurrection, we, too, can live. Thank You that the grave is only a journey into the presence of God. You have removed the sting of death and empowered this thing called life. Now I will live in Your presence forever.” ~ Amen