By Brother Matt Schaefer, C.PP.S.
Years ago, before I entered the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, I worked in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Across the street from where I worked there was an old church I walked by every day. As I waited on the corner to cross the street, I often looked at the architectural details of the church.
One day I noticed the large cornerstone on which was carved “Evan. Lutherische Kirche” with a date and then, “Jesus Christus der rechtes Eckstein.” From my high school German, I knew that this said, Jesus Christ, the true cornerstone. At that time in my life, I could not have claimed that Jesus was the cornerstone of my life. Although I went to Mass each Sunday, my faith was a part-time endeavor at best. God was not at the center of my life, nor was Jesus the foundation.
In today’s reading from First Peter, we hear that the followers of Jesus are living stones that are being built in to a spiritual house with Jesus as the foundation. For the Jews, the temple was truly God’s house, the place where they could be closest to God. If their sinfulness would not allow them to enter the temple, they might just stand on the outskirts. Even here they would feel blessed to be nearer to God.
A sacred place for worship is important to Catholics. That is why the sacraments are almost exclusively celebrated in a church. While we want our faith to be wholly integrated into our lives, we are careful to give the sacraments a special place. We don’t have Masses in our homes or weddings on the beach, lest these vital encounters with God become mundane and ordinary.
In RCIA I try to emphasize throughout the year that our candidates are joining the universal Catholic Church, not just a particular parish. It is good when we find a parish that feels like a home to us. But when we come to understand that the people in the parish are truly “a spiritual house,” our sense of what it means to be Catholic grows and deepens. We know that we are a Body of Christ even without the physical church building.
Seeing that 100-year-old German inscription on the Lutheran church while I waited for the light to turn green was an important moment in my spiritual life. I wonder if the stonemason or the founders of that church ever thought that cornerstone would be a means of evangelization. It was in my case—I realized that Jesus needed to be my foundation of my entire life. This was a first step on a journey that led me to become a Missionary of the Precious Blood.
May this Easter season be a time of renewed commitment to follow Jesus both for new Catholics and lifelong Catholics, a time for all of us to bask in “his wonderful light.”
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Brother Matthew Schaefer, C.PP.S., is in ministry at the Downtown Dayton Parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph.