Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday in the Octave of Easter
The Return of the Rejected Stone

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone…

This verse from Psalm 118 (v. 22) is well known to us. And we know very well what it means and to whom it refers. Perhaps we know it too well. We know, for example, that the stone refers to Jesus. We also know that the builders are the people who are interrogating Peter and John in the first reading today. They are the ones who rejected Jesus by having him tortured, crucified and then buried, only to have him rise unexpectedly from the dead. Yes, we know this verse very well. But is this all there is to it? If so, what relevance might it have for us except to offer us an example of what not to do? We should not reject Jesus as the Jewish authorities did. But what does this mean? And what if we have rejected him? What then? What difference does Easter make?

The gospel story offers us a possible direction in which to deepen our reflection. Here we see that perhaps the Jewish authorities are not the only people who reject the One who was to become the corner stone. We see that after the death of Jesus, even his closest companions seem to have given up on him. We see Simon Peter and some others going fishing. Even though the word reject is probably too strong to apply to them, since they did not actually put Jesus to death, it does seem at least likely that these disciples are effectively abandoning the calling they received from the Lord. They have lost faith in the power of Jesus to save and are turning to other means of making a living. If asked, they would probably not admit that they are rejecting Jesus himself. Yet, aren’t they abandoning the particular Way that the Lord chose to bring us to the fullness of life? Aren’t they forsaking the Road to Calvary?

But, fortunately for them and for us, here ends the similarity between the disciples and the Jewish authorities. For Jesus appears to them even in their despair. And in the light of his presence, they are led to see the stark contrast between fishing alone and fishing with and for Christ. When Jesus is with them barren nets are filled to overflowing. And in the company of this One who feeds them with food for body and soul, they are given the strength to take up their calling once more. As we heard in the first reading, in the power of the Spirit, they fearlessly do what Jesus did. They spend themselves for others. They heal and preach even to the point of suffering persecution. They embrace in their own lives the Way of Christ’s Cross. And in their experience we see the fulfillment of the response to our psalm. The stone that they originally abandoned has indeed become the corner stone of their lives.

This Easter, how is this passage of scripture being fulfilled in our lives?
Who or what is our corner stone?

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