Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter

My father used to have a poster of a cartoon on the wall of his basement workshop when I was a kid. It depicted a man nailing up a sign. A pipe wrench was falling from one of the man’s hands as he gripped his throbbing thumb which was drawn with stars bouncing off of it. The man, obviously, had been trying to pound in the nail with the wrench and he paid the consequences. And what was printed on the sign he was trying to nail to the wall? It said: “Always use the proper tool.” Indeed, I think we’ve all heard the admonition, “Always use the right tool for the right job.” Certainly, it helps in any task to be clear on the goal and the steps to be taken to reach that end. You can’t make a soufflé with a sledgehammer. But assemble the right ingredients, put them into the proper relationships, and you can anticipate wonderful results.

In 1 Peter, we hear an amazing invitation to come to Jesus as “a living stone.” One might say: Nothing is less animate than a rock. But think like Michelangelo and realize that a stone contains a world of possibilities. The stone carver has a bag full of tools to chisel a rock to fit precisely into the space in a wall where it can be most useful. Each stone builds on the strength of the whole until a building arises in which it plays a vital part. The humble “stone” is a single note in a Bach concerto. It is an incidental character in a Broadway cast. But put all the notes together, all the actors, all the sentences, and you have a masterpiece.

Chosen, royal, priestly, and holy. These are the traits of the “stones” that make up the Church - the people of God, the Body of Christ on earth.

Each one of us has been chosen to be a part of the Church in some way. Many of us were invited first by our parents. Later, other mentors in the faith shepherded us to the point of religious understanding and moral formation. Perhaps now we ourselves are inviting family, friends, and community by our own example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

We are a priestly people. Obviously not all of us are ordained to the sacramental ministry, but all are sacramentally anointed for the service of God. Together we are windows and doorways to the sacred for others. We are load-bearing walls meant to share burdens and responsibilities. We are arches and cathedral ceilings that reach toward heaven. We are paving stones others can pass over as they make their way toward an understanding of the faith. We are bridges over troubled waters in the lives of those who suffer. Each one of us is as anointed for our specific role, no less as the priest is who stands at the table of the LORD.+

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