Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Matthew 21.33-43, 45-46 (Lent)

Listen to a reflection for Lent 2: Friday, 10 March, on Matthew 21.33-43, 45-46

Matthew 21.33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’ 

Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.’

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. 


Jesus said to them: Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone?’

When the term ‘cornerstone’ comes up in our readings from scripture I find that people have very different images in their minds. The most common image, and that which I have often heard used by preachers, speaks of the stone which fixes an arch in place. The stone which creates a secure and binding whole from a pile of stones that would otherwise collapse. However, the formal definition of a ‘cornerstone’ provides us with a more powerful image when the term is used in relation to Jesus.

A cornerstone is also known as a ‘foundation stone’ or a ‘setting stone’. A cornerstone is the first stone to be set in the construction of a building. Every other stone will be set in reference to the cornerstone. In this way the cornerstone determines the shape and the alignment of the whole building. It cannot be denied that Jesus is the strategically powerful stone that holds all together, but perhaps it is better for us to think of him as the one who determines the shape of what will come into being around him.

Jesus is the cornerstone around which every community of faith should be built. Jesus is the one true and firm fixed point around which we should align ourselves as we bring his Church into life in the communities in which we live out our daily lives. Of course, aligning ourselves with Jesus is not easy because it demands care and great precision, there is no room for slapdash workmanship or cutting corners. As we take our place in the fabric of the Church we need to accept that there is no room for compromise because, through compromise, we weaken the structure and we diminish its mission.

Today we are called to reflect upon the way in which we live out our faith in this world. Are we loyal and true to the teachings of Christ, or do we constantly compromise through self-interest and anger? Are we willing to take our small and seemingly insignificant place in a much greater whole, or are we one of those who are constantly trying to shape things to suit ourselves? Are we committed to being led by the cornerstone who is also the Son of God, or do we think that we know better? Let us pray for the wisdom, the patience and the joy of playing our part in making the building (Christ’s Church on earth) the strongest it can possibly be.