“Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander, like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation for you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture: “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:1-6)
We are Living Stones
“Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God.” This is the Lord’s invitation to all: those who are strong and capable, and also the poor, handicapped, elderly, disabled, the unborn, to come to him and be loved, even as the world rejects them. He tells us we are all precious in his sight, the hurting, the oppressed, the rejected – we have value and merit and are “wonderfully made.” These words from 1 Peter are a reminder that the very moments we feel most spurned, rejected, ignored, or unjustly condemned are the times when we are closest and most precious to Jesus and when we most resemble him in his agony and Passion. The moments when we are unjustly judged and persecuted are the moments we stand with Jesus, sorrowing and distressed, before Pilate and Herod. When we are mocked and belittled, we are stumbling down the Via Dolorosa alongside him, enduring jeers, spitting, cursing. The question is, can we undergo our own trials and crucifixions without complaining, without retaliation, as he did? It is so difficult to love when others are causing us pain, but we are called to forgive, to allow ourselves to be those “living stones,” shaped and transformed by our suffering.
Putting Off Evil
The first line from the passage in 1 Peter instructs us to first purge ourselves of evil, of “all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy and all slander,” then we are to come to him to be formed into living stones to participate in the building up of the Church, the Body of Christ. We are to confess our sins and resolve to work to defeat them for we are in a battle against the evil one and the tactics he employs to cause us to fall into sin, “for our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Eph 6:12) To rid ourselves of evil, we must fight against our evil tendencies with prayer and penance; then we are transformed and changed into stones that are effective in building up the Kingdom of God. We must be purified to be like him.
Becoming Beautiful Stones
What type of living stones are we now and what kind do we endeavor to become? When a brick structure is being constructed, the bricks are uniform in size and shape, not misshapen and deformed so that they all fit together nicely and the structure is symmetrical. So there is a certain type of stone which is desirable for the building of the Kingdom of God; he is shaping us daily into the form he wants us to be. When I think of stones, I think of slick, smooth, pebble-like stones versus rough, uneven, sharp stones with jagged edges. The smooth stones are pleasant to look at and touch, while the rough stones have jagged edges that can cut and injure. The smooth stones have acquired their beauty after intense and prolonged weathering and erosion, while the rough stones have not experienced the gradual wearing and scraping away of the pointed edges. We can view the trials and difficulties we endure: the hardships, broken relationships, illnesses, financial distress, and all other sufferings, as effecting that erosion and wearing away of our own rough edges and flaws, if we do not allow ourselves to become hardened and bitter. Over time and with much enduring, we can become that soft, smooth, beautiful stone, strong and sturdy, “built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We fit together better as children of God when we are purified, polished, and smooth; not irregular and out of order like the rough stones. We need to allow God to erode and scrape away all that is not of him so we can help build the structure that is the Church.
The Rock, Jesus Christ
“Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” Who is the greatest stone? The whole foundation is build on Jesus , who was rejected but has become the cornerstone. When we allow ourselves to be built up in him and on the foundation of his Church, we are assured that we will be safe and secure from being lost. As Jesus assured the crowds in Matthew’s gospel, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. (Mt 7:24-25) When we build our house on him, we are building on the strongest, sturdiest foundation, and as scripture has assured us, “whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”
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