“There is no salvation through anyone else.” My brothers and sisters, Peter having been filled with the Holy Spirit reminds those gathered back then and all of us gathered here today that there is only one way to salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. In offering Himself over to death and today by inviting us to carry our own crosses He shows us the road we must travel.
Jesus Christ is indeed “the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.” The words from the responsorial psalm are slightly different from the words spoken by Peter in the first reading. Peter says, “He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” These words should make each of us feel uncomfortable. It is not just those back in the time of Christ who rejected Him, but there are times in which we all reject our Lord. We reject Him when we chose to sin rather than follow the road He shows us. Brothers and sisters we are builders, for Jesus calls us to build up His Church. Yet there are times when we are not faithful to the mission in which we are called.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The correlation between the first reading and the Gospel is that not only should we understand ourselves as builders but we should also understand ourselves as shepherds. In describing Himself as a shepherd our Lord shows us His humility because a shepherd was seen as an outcast. Since they worked long hours in the field in the bright hot sun, they often smelled horrible. We are called to model our Lord Jesus Christ who was the good shepherd and be the humble builders of the Church He calls us to be. Today we must ask ourselves, when was the last time we laid down our lives for someone else? When was the last time we really worked up a hypothetical sweat laboring in the Lord’s vineyard?
Having worked prior to entering seminary and even during the summers while in college seminary I have seen a serious change in attitude in the minds of many people. Speaking from my experience, here is a problem I see and that is our generation lacking a serious work ethic and it is my fear that has even crept into our attitudes when it comes to our faith. Many people today want to start at the top without putting in the time. What ever happened to the idea that we have to earn what we get? When it comes to building up our Church and our personal faith it takes work, real hard work. One joke I have heard over the years which I don’t find very funny describing priest’s hands is this, “these hands are meant for holding chalices, not calices.” My response, a priest who is not willing to work hard enough to get calices on his hands in the vineyard of the Lord is not worthy to even hold a chalice. The same thing goes not just for priest but also for religious and the entire people of God. When it comes to our faith and growing in it we must be prepared to work hard. If we are not willing to work hard, then we need to ask ourselves, what’s the point? Why are we even here?
Why is it important for us to work hard especially when it comes to building up the Church and our own personal faith? We find the answer in today’s Second Reading from the first letter of Saint John, “We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” This line reminds us of what it will be like in heaven. Working hard now will help us get to that day when we in heaven will see God in all His glory. So brothers and sisters, we have something to look forward to. Therefore, let’s now put are hands to the plow and get to work being the good builders and shepherds He calls us to be! God gives us the means, but He awaits a response from us.