The dictionary describes a cornerstone as the “stone that unites the two walls of a building at a corner.” In other words it is the “principal stone” — the corner of the foundation. Have you ever walked around your church and school buildings to find out where that foundational stone is located? Does it contain a date or comment as to its origin? Or does it just stand stoically, undefined, and yet steady in its course!
When we think of a cornerstone in terms of humanity, we conjure up an image of one who upholds not only the “principal” stone, but one who also upholds the “principles” of our faith. Isn’t that what Christ is for us? The discourse on cornerstone as seen in Sunday’s second reading reminds us that Christ, though rejected by human beings, is ever the cornerstone of the foundation of the church.
This cornerstone reference is clearly reflected in the first reading where we see the disciples confronted with a dilemma that surely tests the beginning foundations of this new Christianity. The Hellenist Christians asked the Hebrew Christians why their widows were not part of the daily distribution of food and supplies.
Already we see the wisdom and determination of the first disciples. As a result of this inquiry, a few were appointed to see to the corporal needs of the growing community, while others were assigned to attend to the spiritual tasks. What a wonderful compromise! Truly the disciples already understood their role to uphold those beginning foundations.
Take a look around at the statues and images in your church. There you also see the representation of those who through time have assumed their responsibility to continue the foundational work of the church. In my parish, we have a statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who, although wealthy queen, made it her life’s work to tend the poor and hungry, fulfilling the corporal works of mercy. Then we have St. Martin of Tours who at first reluctantly assumed the role of bishop, but went on to foster the needs of people through his spiritual works of mercy. Get acquainted with the images of the saints in your parish. The saints looked to Christ as their foundational cornerstone as they, just as Christ, many times were rejected by their communities.
When you arrive at Mass this weekend take care to notice all of your fellow parishioners. Each one has a talent that can fulfill the foundational elements of our Catholic Christianity. Then, thank the Lord for the many blessings given to each of us and pray that we all may develop our own path to uphold this great church of God with Christ as our foundation.
Wettstein is director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.