Proper 22 – Year A

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19 (or Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:7-14); Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46

“The stone that the builder refused will always be the head.” – Bob Marley

                Jesus tells the story of a group of vineyard farmers who refuse to hand over the grapes to the owner.  They even kill the owner’s son.  When the chief priests and Pharisees heard this parable they knew that Jesus was talking about them, and that this was a reference to the upcoming death of Jesus.  Matthew initially wrote this whole passage to speak of the Jews rejecting Jesus, and therefore Christianity turning to the Gentiles.  That separation of Jews and Christians may not be an issue for us today.  However, Jesus says something that today does concern us.  He said “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Matthew 21:42, a quote from Psalm 118:22)   Our mission today is to perceive that reality in ourselves.  Certainly Jesus is speaking mainly about himself.  But there is a fuller sense to this cornerstone.  We who are continuing the work of Jesus are also called to be cornerstones (see Greek below).  We can, because of the flow of Christ within us, give purpose, meaning and dedication to others, and be at the corner of their lives, be there for them at their turning points.  A major theme of Scripture is that God uses the unlikely and even the despised.  It is unlikely that a rejected stone be at the corner of someone else’s life in any meaningful way.  But that is what God does.  Are we rejected or refused?  Perhaps so, by others; but never by God.  More poignantly, maybe we reject ourselves, not seeing that we are God’s good grapes that need to be harvested to our God given role in life.  When we think poorly of ourselves we are rejecting the stone that is destined to be the cornerstone.  We can learn to live into our keystone role by looking around at the great cloud of witnesses we are surrounded by.  Who are the cornerstones in our lives?  Learning from them, let us all note where and for whom we ourselves are cornerstones.  May we do this not with self-righteous pride but with humble truth and divine sight.

Greek

                The word translated “cornerstone” literally in Greek is “head of the corner.”  This implies prominence, and for us, prominence in the lives of others.

                Matthew 21:41 has an interesting redundancy.  It literally says: “Evil (or bad) men, he will destroy them evilly (or badly).

Haiku

The Rejected builds,

places us as cornerstones.

Life of others firm.

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