Perhaps last week as we undertook a self-evaluation of our tenancy of the Lord’s vineyard, we may have ended up feeling a little guilty - with a tinge of despair?...
Last week the first reading records Peter addressing the people.
THIS WEEK [ACTS 4: 8 – 12] the first reading records Peter speaking to the “rulers of the people and elders.“ In other words we know that Saint Peter’s initial teachings were addressed to all parties – everyone had to hear that their rejection of Jesus had been disastrous but the actual result was (another paradox!) truly memorable and powerful: “this (Jesus Christ of Nazareth) you builders, but which has become the cornerstone …. and there is salvation in no one else.”
If nothing else, Peter knew his psalms:
“the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone … a marvel in our eyes.“ [see TODAY’S PSALM – 118 or 117]. In the final analysis the disaster had become a marvel.
We should not miss the fact that last week Saint Peter is harsher with the people than he is this Sunday with the rulers and elders. To the people he says
“you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate.” The rulers and elders are simply told that “this is the stone which was rejected by you the builders.”
Here there is a lesson for us – if ordinary folk stand firm, are adamant, the rulers and elders are actually powerless. We are truly living in an age of the laity. This is a fact forgotten
(or to which, often, only lip-service is given) by many of our ecclesiastical rulers and elders. It is interesting to note that it was the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with palm branches and loud acclamation. John’s Gospel (KNOX VERSION12: 18 &19) records that “the multitude went out to meet him …. and the Pharisees said to one another, do you see how vain are our efforts? Look, the whole world has turned aside to follow him.“
Jesus, the Christ and cornerstone, must be a marvel in our eyes!
IS HE, TRULY, A MARVEL IN MY EYES? In a real sense the multitude who went out to meet him saw him as a ‘one-day-marvel’, and – in fact – in a matter of days turned aside from him. I need to “see him as he is” (SECOND READING: 1 JOHN 3: 1 – 2), not as I want him to be. The Oxford Concise defines marvel as a wonderful thing / a wonderful example of. If I see him as a thing, it must be as the cornerstone of my life and living, the crucial hinge on which all doors open and close. There is no doubt in my mind that this is not always the case with me, and I suppose the reason lies in the fact that I do not ‘oil the hinge’ sufficiently. Perhaps I need to appreciate more deeply the fact that this cornerstone and marvel of my faith is how I should understand what our Second Reading asks me to “see“ …. “what love the Father has given us.“ The JERUSALEM BIBLE version tells us “to think on the love the Father has lavished on us.”
The Risen Lord is also
a wonderful example. An excellent plan for an examination of conscience is to make a personal list of what three special things I see as the Lord’s wonderful example, and then evaluate the hinges I used in the opening and closing of doors during my day? Then, I must THINK on the love the Father has LAVISHED on me!
There are two ideas from
TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 10: 11 – 18] worth reflecting on. (1) We are the Lord’s “own“ and he is not a hireling, substitute or bogus shepherd. He never deserts us. This, indeed, should be a marvel in our eyes. (2) In and with the Risen Lord I have, when I have turned aside, “the power to take it up again.“ I have the power to oil the hinge and start again, opening the correct doors and building on the cornerstone.
This is the love the Father has lavished on us.