MAY 29, 2008: 1 PETER 2:2–5, 9–12; MARK 10:46
YOU TOO ARE LIVING STONES, BUILT AS AN EDIFICE OF SPIRIT, INTO A HOLY PRIESTHOOD.This Statement by Saint Peter discloses a profound concept of the Christian life when we examine it closely. Peter had just prefaced these words with an exhortation in which he invites his audience to “Come to him (the Lord), a living stone, rejected by men but approved, nonetheless, and precious in God’s eyes.” He applies the same expression to the faithful as he uses of Jesus when he refers to us as “living stones.” What exactly does this image depict for us? What does a living stone look like? This seems to be the wrong question, for we cannot combine these two words into any single image even in our imagination. Nothing is less alive than a stone. If we wish to announce some animal or human is definitely deceased, we have an emphatic expression at hand in our American English: “he is stone dead”, that is to say, “dead as a stone” which implies that nothing is more truly lifeless than stone. The expression “living stone” then is a palmary instance of an oxymoron, that is, an expression that combines two incongruous or opposed realities to form a striking effect. The effect that our text intends to produce is deeper awareness that we who believe in Christ share the same world he lives in, a world that functions according to laws that transcend those operative in this material universe.
In belonging to God by virtue of faith in the risen Lord Jesus, our actions take on an altogether new kind of significance: what we do and how we relate to one another have a significance that is transcendent to time. Our actions build up an eternal structure, a temple that is eternal, formed by our own self and so a living temple. What we do lives on in eternity for our very self belongs to God; indeed, with God and in God we become truly a live. And so Saint Peter uses other images that insist on the reality of this truth: You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people he (God) claims as his own.” We are “a holy priesthood,” our life consists in “offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”, he further declares.
In the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed, Jesus gives sight to the blind. May his inspired word and the power of his person enlighten and strengthen each of us so that we might, like him, be living stones in the eternal city of God, so united with one another and with all who belong to God that we fashion one another by our way of living into the harmonious assembly that by the whole of its structure gives glory and praise to the eternal God.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger