Reflection on Matthew 21.33-43, 45-46 (Lent)

Jesus said: Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone?’

When the term ‘cornerstone’ comes up in our readings from scripture I find that people have very different images in their minds. The most common image, and that which I have often heard used by preachers, speaks of the stone which fixes an arch in place. The stone which creates a secure and binding whole from a pile of stones that would otherwise collapse. However, the formal definition of a ‘cornerstone’ provides us with a more powerful image when the term is used in relation to Jesus.

A cornerstone is also known as a ‘foundation stone’ or a ‘setting stone’. A cornerstone is the first stone to be set in the construction of a building. Every other stone will be set in reference to the cornerstone. In this way the cornerstone determines the shape and the alignment of the whole building. It cannot be denied that Jesus is the strategically powerful stone that holds all together, but perhaps it is better for us to think of him as the one who determines the shape of what will come into being around him.

Jesus is the cornerstone around which every community of faith should be built. Jesus is the one true and firm fixed point around which we should align ourselves as we bring his Church into life in the communities in which we live out our daily lives. Of course, aligning ourselves with Jesus is not easy because it demands care and great precision, there is no room for slapdash workmanship or cutting corners. As we take our place in the fabric of the Church we need to accept that there is no room for compromise because, through compromise, we weaken the structure and we diminish its mission.

Today we are called to reflect upon the way in which we live out our faith in this world. Are we loyal and true to the teachings of Christ, or do we constantly compromise through self-interest and anger? Are we willing to take our small and seemingly insignificant place in a much greater whole, or are we one of those who are constantly trying to shape things to suit ourselves? Are we committed to being led by the cornerstone who is also the Son of God, or do we think that we know better? Let us pray for the wisdom, the patience and the joy of playing our part in making the building (Christ’s Church on earth) the strongest it can possibly be.