Sunday, May 22, 2011

friction: living stones

When i was a young kid, I would often come home somewhat frustrated. I was a thin kid and i came from a large familty. And often times, I would be picked on by my classmates because of this. They would make fun of the fact i had 9 brothers and sisters or the fact i was really thin.

Usually, I wanted to beat some kids.

My dad decided to show me how to handle it. He took me aside at home and told me that he would show me how to fight. He got in a sparring position and raised in hands and in one swell swoop I swung and hit him in the stomach.

HE crumbled in front of me. I was a little scared. But he grabbed me and told me that that wasn't exactly what he had in mind. He really wasn't wanting to show me how to hit someone. That was not what he meant when he told me he was going to teach me how to fight.

What he meant was learning how to deal with tension and adversity in amore subtle way. He informed me that learnig how to fight had little to do with learning how to hit but rather using the tension and friction and allowing it to shape us in a positive way.

Friction and tension will always be present. Hitting seldom solves anything.

This is what St. Peter is talking about int he second reading today.

He tells us that we are called to be "living stones built into a spiritual house...a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his announce the praises of Christ."

"Living stones!"

What does this mean?

Peter is drawing from a image that we are not familiar. In order to understand this we have to go all the way back to Peter's time with JEsus.

Jesus often hung around at Capernaum, a village near the sea of gallilee. This was JEsus' home away from home. In this little village there are many homes built of small black stones.

What is unique about these stone homes is that no mortar is used. We are all familiar with brick and mortar. Mortar is that sticky stuff that allows the bricks to stay in place.

But in Peter's time, homes were often built with out mortar. In order to get the stones to stay in place, they would take the stones and rub them together. Using the fiction and the rubbing, the stones would eventually stick togther.

The friction and the tension would be used to create durability and sturdiness.

This process is called making "living stones."

this is what Peter is talking about. As Christians we are called to use the friction and tension we encounter in life to be life giving. This is what it means to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Faith changes how we deal with everything.

These moments of friction and tension that often accompanies relationships of all kinds: family, children, spouses, work,s chool, etc, are meant to shape us and bring about a strudy and durable unity.

In the presence of friction, we discover what real charity and real commitment is all about. Growth and change accompanies the process of friction.

This is what we discover in the first reading. Their is tension in the early church. Division and fractions are compalining about being neglecting. the apsotles take that friction and tension and use it to move the early in a new direction establishing the Diaconate, where seven men are chosen into service.

What a marvelous testimony and witness of grace being active. Divisions and diversity bring strength and intensify unity.

We are a race of grace. No longer are we bound by ethnicity, origins, language, financial status but we are bound in Christ. We have one thing in common, we are all differnt and in this difference the sameness of Christ holds us together.

This is what it means to learn to fight in life, in grace; this is how we walk the way, the truth and the life.

So the next time to find tension i your marriage, in your family, in your work place, in yor relationships, stop and think about these living stones and how frictiona and rubbing is necessary for durability and sturdiness and unity.

Use it properly and only then can we truly announce the praises of Christ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never heard the reference/explanation of the "living stones." A couple years back, B.XVI made reference to Francis of Assisi's re-building of the Church. The Holy Father said something to the effect that the first churches we are to rebuild is our own selves. In light of the living stones reference, it certainly strengthens a few more connections of the Franciscan spirituality. Much thanks for sharing this insight, Father!