The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
(from Ps 118)
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the
Then the other disciple went in…He saw and
(from Jn 20:1-9)
Pondering the Word…
“Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and
precious in the sight of God, and like living stones, let yourselves be
built into a spiritual house…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
(1 Pt 2:4-5)
Stones have figured prominently in the gospels over the past several
weeks: The devil tempting Jesus to turn stones into bread after 40 days
in the desert. The elders ready to stone the woman caught in adultery.
The rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone. The stones that would
cry out if Jesus silenced his disciples. The stone that secured his
Stones are important in the Old Testament as well. Jacob rests his head
on a stone, dreams of a ladder to heaven, and builds an altar to God.
Moses carves the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. David defeats the
enemy with five smooth stones and God-guided aim. God changes hearts of
A quick search yields over 400 uses of the word stone in the Bible.
Stones used to build up, stones used to break down. Stones used to
defend against death, stones used to consign one to the grave. The old
covenant etched in stone, the new covenant written, not on stone, but on
hearts made for love.
Living the Word…
In this time of turmoil when it feels like the foundations of many of
our institutions are cracking and crumbling, it is imperative, it is
essential that we the people come together as living stones to rebuild a
house acceptable to God. Decorative cornerstones are used these days
more for commemoration, but we cannot allow our cornerstone—Christ
Jesus—to become anything less than the bedrock on which we stand. We are
not called to commemorate his life. We are called to live it. Jesus was
rejected because he dared to ask the hard questions, to challenge the
status quo. We too, chosen and precious in the sight of God, must be
willing, as living stones, to question and challenge, to cry out and not
allow fear and apathy to silence us.
Like Mary of Magdala, we may still be in the dark. But look! The stone
has been removed from the tomb. Let us have the courage to go inside
our hearts, to see, and to believe. He lives!
Sunday, April 14:
“The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how
to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.” (Is 50:4-7)
could use someone to rouse me out of my weariness these days. I know I’m not
alone. I speak to many people who are world-weary, in need of good news. I know
in my case I would also benefit from a good swift kick to startle me out of my
apathy and set me back on a hopeful, active path. The only person who can really
do this for me and you is Jesus—the Good News. I have a choice: to look at the
stories that unfold this week as nothing more than stories of desolation and
pain or as stories that are seedbeds of hope. I can choose to join my sorrows
and disappointments with the suffering of Christ, his disciples, and those of
the rest of the world to rouse me and provide fodder for growth for myself and
for my brothers and sisters.
Provision: Fast from ‘Skimming the Surface.’
am going to suggest may sound counterintuitive, but in order for the joy of the
Resurrection to really make a difference for us, we need to experience the
sadness of the coming week. Khalil Gibran wrote, “The deeper sorrow carves
into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Having heard the Holy
Week stories over and over, we might tend to look at them as ancient history, to
skim the surface, not allowing them to penetrate our hearts. Instead, take time
this week to read the gospel stories intentionally. If it helps, imagine them as
a play; maybe you can be one of the actors or someone in the audience watching
this story of sorrow develop. Think about adding to the story your own pain,
sorrow, or fear. It’s important to bring that same level of involvement and
attention to the story that unfolds next Sunday. Consider going to Triduum
services and to the Easter Vigil. Be an active participant not only in the
passion story, but in the story of hope that begins with the empty tomb.
"Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.”
Jesus says an interesting thing here: “let her keep this for the day of
my burial.” It’s not about him. It never is. ‘Let Mary have this to hold onto
when I am gone, this deep, intimate sharing of love.’ I think of stories people
tell me about loved ones long gone and how they hold onto a special event or
moment that keeps that loved one alive in their hearts. Perhaps you’ve had an
experience of closeness like this with Jesus. What memories keep love alive in
Today’s Provision: Pray for Loved Ones who Have Died.
Spend time today thinking about special people in your life who have died, not
necessarily to mourn (unless you still need to), but to remember cherished times
of intimacy and love. See if you can allow a treasured memory to light the fire
of love to warm and comfort you. If your memories are too difficult or fraught
with pain, pray instead that God will grant you a place of peace through
acceptance and forgiveness of the person or of yourself.
“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,' my mother
explained before she left me. 'If you can remember me, I will be with you
Allende) “Do this in memory of me.” “I will be with you always even to the
end of the world.” (Jesus)
Peter said, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life
for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, I say to
you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
(Jn 13: 21-33, 36-38)
help but imagine Peter as a whiny kid: ‘But I wanna follow you NOWWA.’ Oh, my
friend Peter has the best of intentions. He is emboldened, and I believe he
really means what he says to Jesus, but when push comes to shove, he crumbles.
He lies. He runs away. So very human, just like me. The reason Peter is so
special to me is his willingness to repent. He is tenacious and doesn’t allow
his weakness to get in the way of coming closer to Christ. In the Catholic
tradition, St. Alexandra is the patron of defending humanity, but for me, Peter
is the patron saint of human beings—flawed but resilient, weak but willing to
return again and again to his only, his ultimate source of strength.
Provision: Give it Another Try.
One thing Peter teaches us is to never give up. If, for whatever reason, you are
estranged from God, look to St. Peter for an example of the power of God’s mercy
and love, and of the strength you gain when you get your pride/shame out of the
way. It is a paradox, but the best way to come closer to Christ is to accept the
weakness of our human condition. Sure, we always want to strive to do better, to
repent for our sins, to actually walk the walk, but we will never be able to do
this if we don’t first reunite with God. Let Peter’s tenacity and commitment be
inspiration for you.
Wednesday, April 17:
Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the
Son of Man is betrayed.”
Betrayal is the theme that underlies today’s readings. The hardest thing about
betrayal is that it is the most hurtful when it happens at the hands of those
closest to us. Betrayal by a casual associate is often felt as embarrassment for
letting ourselves be taken in by someone not worthy of our trust, but broken
trust with a good friend or loved one can be some of the greatest pain of all.
Amid the pain of betrayal, our reliance on God’s mercy and love is so important
as we work to heal not only ourselves, but the other and the broken
relationship. If we have been betrayed or have betrayed another, we need not
despair as Judas did. God’s mercy is deep and broad and wide enough to take in
all that pain. Let God provide a soft, gentle, healing place for trust to take
root again and blossom.
Today’s Provision: Pray for Healing.
When we experience betrayal, as either the victim or the perpetrator, the worst
thing we can do is not allow ourselves time to grieve. Betrayal is a highly
sensitive place that requires us to move slowly and deliberately if we are to
have hope for healing and reconciliation. The psalms provide good material for
prayer; the help of a counselor or pastoral minister can also make getting
through the initial days and weeks a little easier. If you are suffering from a
betrayal, even one that is decades old, healing can still be there for you.
Imagine God saying to you, “You’ve got a whole heart, give me the hard part. I
can love that too.” (From Hard Part, a song from the album Vista
by David Wilcox). Pray for God’s healing touch.
Thursday, April 18:
“But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will
pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will
come upon you." (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14)
mentioned I am using a new translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the life’s work
of scholar Robert Alter. He translates this passage as, “And the blood will
be a sign for you upon the houses in which you are, and I will see the blood and
I will pass over you, and no scourge shall become a Destroyer amongst you when I
strike in the land of Egypt.” He notes, “blood (is) a recurrent motif in
the literary structure of the larger narrative.” “The blood will be a sign
for you.” Not just a sign for God, but a sign for each one of us. For
Christians, the pain, the suffering, the shedding of the Lamb’s blood will mark
your hearts, and no scourge, not even the scourge of sin, can destroy you.
provision: Give Your Heart to God.
suffer under the weight of sin, don’t delay. Give your heart to God. Let God see
and heal the suffering you endure. Perhaps you are reconciled to God in your
sin, but know others who still suffer the pain of an unreconciled heart. Invite
them in, through your own personal prayer, to live under the protection of the
blood of the Lamb.
Friday, April 19:
“I am forgotten like the unremembered dead.”
In his thought-provoking book, Sum: forty tales from the afterlives,
neuroscientist David Eagleman writes,
are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is
when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in
the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”
cities across the United States, December 21—the first day of winter and the
longest night of the year—is National Homeless Persons Memorial Day. It is a day
to remember the forgotten dead, some whose remains are never claimed, some whose
consignment to the grave is a routine function. In the city of Baltimore near
where I live, 192 persons were remembered at the memorial in 2017, some whose
legal name was not known; officials say the actual number is likely higher, and
it is also some 80 more homeless people than died in 2012.
I shudder to think of those dead and forgotten in countries where disease and
violence take hundreds of lives a day.
Today’s Provision: Pray for the Forgotten Dead.
On Monday, we remembered loved ones who have passed away. On this day of the
Lord’s Passion, spend quiet time in prayer for those who have died lonely,
without support, without a name. Pray the Lord will call them each by their real
name to dwell with him forever in paradise.
greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know that no one cares or
Saturday, April 20:
no script for today’s scene in the play we’ve experienced this week. Look back
over the week. Are there situations, events, or words that Jesus or the prophets
have uttered that move or resonate more clearly with you? God tends to speak to
us this way—subtly, even through the passages that make us a bit uncomfortable.
It’s worth revisiting and praying with them today. Holy Saturday doesn’t get
much air time, but it is an important day, a holding pattern between sorrow and
joy, a place where we spend a good deal of our lives. The fear of what lies
ahead can mire us in the pain of the past and blind us to the light right around
the corner. Allow yourself instead a time of reflection and rest.
Provision: Fast, Pray, Give.
back over your Lenten journey. Are there fasts you’d like to make a permanent
part of your life? Are there special prayers or people you want to add to your
daily reflection time? What have you given either to others or to God this Lent
that you’d like to continue to give? Even though Lent is a time dedicated to
these disciplines, think about committing each morning of the year to a fast, a
prayer, and a gift unique for that day. Let God know your intention and pray for
the patience, strength, and courage to live it.
Blessed Easter season! Come and See returns next week and will take us
through ordinary time--which we will make extraordinary by living in the Risen