The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
When a mason constructs a foundation, the first and most important stone is the cornerstone. The placement, elevation and orientation of this stone determines the entire structure. The selection of a cornerstone begins at the quarry, where a stone of superior strength and uniformity is chosen – a stone that won’t crumble, a stone around which all else can be built.
In this brief passage from Psalm 118 we read, of course, of Christ – the cornerstone of our lives, our faith, and ultimately, the Kingdom of God. Given the definition above, it is counterintuitive Jesus Christ would be “the stone the builders rejected.”
We must remember there are different “construction standards” at play here. By the standards of this world, Christ makes no sense. By the standards of Pharisees, Jesus was a heretic. And Christ today refutes every standard of success held up by this world.
But, the Kingdom of God is not built on those standards. Greed, pride and petty tribalism won’t hold up the Body of Christ. When we build on legalism and the treasures of this world, we not only align ourselves off the wrong cornerstone; we set ourselves against the Kingdom.
Where, then, is our cornerstone? The disciples asked this in a roundabout way in Matthew 22:36: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus answers by telling them where to find their – our – cornerstone:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Everything hangs on love – of God, and of our neighbor. Love of self, of possessions, even of church, the law and Scripture for its own sake, will not supplant the selfless love of God and our neighbor as the one true cornerstone of our faith.
Lord God, grant us, we pray, the wisdom and strength to not stumble on the petty stones of this world, but to align our lives by the true cornerstone of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.