“The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.” This is a line from Psalm 118, which is used as today’s responsorial psalm. We sang a variation of another line from Psalm 118 a couple of weeks ago, which line for some reason has been running through my head at various times since then: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love is everlasting.”
The cornerstone motif is repeated by St. Peter in Acts, which we hear in our first reading. I like this first reading for two reasons. First, it’s again Peter, former complete fuckup, now really in stride. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” it says. And, I always like stuff in the New Testament that reflects or recalls or otherwise makes reference to the Old Testament. I especially love when Jesus preaches from the Old Testament, but St. Peter is cool, too.
So of course the Gospel reading must be from St. Matthew, where Jesus says, “Did you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’?” But it’s not from St. Matthew. The Gospel reading is from St. John, where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.”
Why suddenly the good shepherd, instead of the cornerstone? We had the cornerstone motif from St. Matthew’s Gospel back in March, back in Lent, when the first reading was Joseph’s brothers selling him to the Ishmaelites. And Joseph was a shepherd, maybe even a good shepherd. Oh, I don’t understand! Why good shepherd today?
And good shepherd always confuses me anyway, because Christ is also the Paschal lamb. In the sanctuary of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the mosaic that’s above the main mosaic of St. Matthew depicts angels arrayed below and around an altar, upon which sits a lamb. We’ve got Christ as sacrifice as a pretty major element of our church, so I’m always reminded of Christ as Paschal lamb. But then, okay, Jesus does today immediately say that the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. And of course God is all-powerful and can be lamb and shepherd all at the same time. (Not a tough thing to do for the creator of the universe, I suppose.)
I’m just easily confused, apparently.