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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Rock writes about The STONE

While most could very well interpret today's readings to speak of Jesus' preparing a place for us, there appears to be a deeper meaning to what these scriptures say.  In one form or another, today's readings reference the Temple.

In his first letter, St. Peter tells the nascent Church that her members are "like living stones" that are being used to build up a spiritual house.  I found it interesting that the man whom Jesus called "rock" and upon whom He would build his Church would write about Christ the "living stone," the "cornerstone, chosen and precious," although "rejected by the builders."

For me, the above stained glass window captures the essence of what Jesus mandated when he established Peter's authority and of the Prince of the Apostle's first epistle.  Even though Jesus knew that St. Peter would deny Him, Christ was also well aware of the former fisherman's deep love. That love was rock solid.  It was that love that drove Peter to surreptitiously  follow Jesus from Gethsemane to the High Priest's house; but, it was fear that led him to deny his Master.

It is now that same love that compels and propels Peter to build up and encourage the young Church, fashioning these living stones into the new Temple.

At the Last Supper discourse, Jesus references the Temple.  Recall that in St. John's Gospel, as Jesus is clearing out the money changers who have profaned the Temple, He calls the sacred space His "Father's house."  He uses that same phrase in today's Gospel reading, taken from St. John's account:
2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 
The Temple, God's dwelling on earth, was a huge complex with a plethora of rooms.  It was the place where Ancient Israel, and, eventually, the whole of humanity, could have an encounter with the Lord. The Court of the Gentiles was the largest space because it was designed to allow non-Jews the opportunity to render God worship.  The next smaller space was reserved for Ancient Israel and the final, most important space, was the Holy of Holies, reserved for the priest who offered sacrifices to God.

St. John, in Revelation, returns to that images of the Temple and the heavenly Jerusalem, as he writes of seeing the new Jerusalem coming down from Heaven like a bride.  When he describes the new Temple, John writes of the 12 foundations named after the 12 apostles.  The whole Temple was encrusted in precious jewels, seemingly harkening what St. Peter referenced in his epistle when he referred to the living stones used to build up the spiritual house.

In today's account from the Acts of the Apostles, we also see a veiled reference to the Temple.  Towards the very end, St. Luke tells us that "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."  These were the same priests who were offering the daily and weekly sacrifices in the Holy of Holies."  Now, they would be partaking of the real sacrifice, the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  They would be worshipping the Lord in "spirit and truth," just as Christ predicted to the Samaritan woman during their conversation at the well.

All of this boils down to worship.  The earthly liturgy gives us a foretaste of the heavenly reality that we will one day experience.  At the Last Supper, Jesus laid down the framework as to how he would be worshipped.  In today's Epistle, St. Peter, the Rock, reminds us that Christ is the cornerstone of the Church.  He is also the Master Architect, building His Church on the rock that is St. Peter and we are a part of the myriad of living stones that make up this spiritual house, with the Holy Spirit serving as the mortar that holds us all together.

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