Easter 04, Year B-2009
- The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Ps. 118:22)
Rejection, according to St. Peter in the first reading, characterizes Jesus, the cornerstone of the house of salvation. Rejection is as indispensable to Jesus’ being the Messiah as the cornerstone is to the building. Jesus’ rejection, in other words, is a matter of necessity. “The Son of Man,” he teaches, “must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days” (Mk. 8:31; Lk. 9:22; cf. also Mt. 16:21; 20:18-19; Mk. 10:33-34; Lk. 18:31-32; 24:25-26, 46). His laying down of his life for the sheep, of his own accord, is what sets him apart as the genuine good shepherd from the phony shepherds and makes him the Father’s beloved.
And the good shepherd makes clear also:
- I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead,
- and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Jesus reaches beyond the fold, then, towards those I readily exclude and would rather prefer they remain on the margins, toward those also to whom I deliberately I refuse to extend the hand of fellowship because in my view they clearly do not subscribe to the moral and religious values I uphold and therefore are not deserving of a recognition, say, at a school, college or university program. Jesus recognizes Zacchaeus, for example, and invites himself to his house, paving the way thereby for a public sinner of a wealthy chief tax collector to reach out to the marginalized and do justice to those taken advantage of (Lk. 19:1-9).
Clearly, there is hope for the rejected on account of the recognition given them by the Rejected One. Invited to the Lord’s Supper to partake of his body given up and his blood shed for all, the rejected are enabled to follow the example set by their Lord and Master and do as he has done for them, recognizing him in others rejected like themselves—in their thirst, their hunger, their loneliness, and their misfortune. It will matter little for the rejected that the world does not recognize them; the world does not recognize their Lord and Master either and it rejects him.