"The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone." Mt 21:43The scriptures are full of stories of intrigue and violence. Today we are presented with two of them, Joseph sold into slavery by his own brothers, and the son of the vineyard owner killed by the tenants. In Lent, of course, they are preparing us for Jesus' suffering and death, but there is also a telling reminder in the middle of today's gospel. When we see only with our eyes and "not by faith," we miss hugely important lessons.
Engineers and architects have been fascinated for centuries by the simple but elegant style and form of Roman arches. Strong today even after 2000 years, the arches are built with stones almost exactly the same in size, except for the capstone which allows the arch to stand freely and strongly. The capstone is chipped at and broken so that it fits perfectly between the others. Rejected as a a regular building stone because of its odd shape, it becomes the capstone only after it is hacked at and formed in a way that allows the rest to stand together. Our capstone, of course, is the Christ, who suffers so that the "arch" of God's kingdom can endure.
What a great lesson. While suffering is one of the most difficult of human experiences to explain, understand and accept, it comes to us all. Joseph must have been overwhelmed with hurt and sorrow when his brothers, out of jealousy, sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And the son of the vineyard owner in the gospel was killed, not because on anything he did, but simply because he was the messenger. Both Joseph and the owner's son remind us to reflect deeply about our own envies and jealousies. How often we "kill" others with words and rumors thinking we can advance our owns standing in the community, only to have the one attacked become a symbol of hope by her willingness to endure suffering for a greater good. Women and men like Joseph and the vineyard owner's son are capstones and Christ figures who challenge us to transformation through suffering.
Today, welcome the uncomfortable and confusing.
When has suffering in your own life helped you enter more deeply into the mystery of God's love?