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O Rex gentium - Christ our cornerstone

Friday, December 22, 2006
Readings: 1 Samuel 1:24-28; Responsorial psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1,4-8; Luke 1:46-56

Any building whose foundation is unsound will fracture, become unstable and ultimately collapse, and buildings built on clay or marshy soil do not endure like those founded on solid rock. Hence, in 1 Peter 2:4-8, Christ is proclaimed as the cornerstone, echoing the prophet Isaiah who proclaimed that God was laying a “sure foundation” (Isaiah 28:16), and the permanence of this cornerstone is juxtaposed in today’s antiphon with the lowly clay from which we are fashioned. Because of Christ, we are no longer just transient clay bricks but “living stones” which are to be built into a “spiritual house” with Christ as the “head of the corner” (Psalm 118:2), thus giving the building permanence, strength and endurance.

A society which has rejected Christ – for example that of the proposed European Constitution – is one that cannot perdure and has no firm foundation, for “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Built on the shifting soil of popular opinion rather than truth and permanent values, such a society cracks and crumbles. Today’s antiphon proclaims that Christ is the One whom all nations desire because he alone brings harmony and unity, just as the cornerstone unites two walls, making them stand as one.

As Christmas dawns and we recall again “the wonderful deeds of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9), let us implore the Lord to craft us into his “living stones”, so that, built on the “precious cornerstone” of Christ and his Gospel truth, we may be united as “God’s own people”. Thus, may we, sharing in the “royal priesthood” of Christ our King and Redeemer, help reconcile and unite humanity, and endue society with the permanence and endurance of the Truth.

The photo above, taken by the author, is of the keystone in the lantern of Ely cathedral.

O King of the Nations, whom they desire, and the cornerstone, who join two together into one: come and save mankind, whom you formed from the clay.

Lawrence Lew OP


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