The following homily was delivered by Jim Penczykowski at Sunday Assembly at Holy Wisdom Monastery on May 22, 2011.
In what way could we say that stones are living?
I am wondering if any of the younger members of the congregation know, or can guess, what it is that holds the bricks in place on the outside of this building?
Mortar is kind of muddy glue. When it hardens around bricks or stones it holds them together.
Bricks and stones can sometimes stay together without the mortar.
Usually the pieces have to fit together very tightly and in a certain pattern so that they do not fall down.
In the time and place that Jesus lived there were buildings made of stones without mortar.
The stones were soft enough that if you rubbed them together a lot you could make them fit together very tightly.
These were sometimes called “living stones”.
In one of our readings today we hear Jesus himself called a living stone and we hear that we should think of ourselves as living stones all making a spiritual home.
I like that picture in my mind.
Like the soft stones that people rubbed together to make a house, we too have to get pretty close to one another and trust that the rough edges that we all have will be smoothed down enough that we will make a place where God and other people are welcome.
One of the things that makes it difficult for us to fit together to make that spiritual home is fear.
When we are afraid we cannot do the things we thought we wanted to do. When I was very young I saw other kids a little older than me having fun going down a tall slide.
I wanted to go down that slide, but there were two problems.
One, I had to climb a tall ladder to get to the top, but I knew that I could climb the ladder if I did not look down.
The second problem was that once I was at the top of the ladder and ready to go down the slide, the only way to look was down; and it looked like a long way to the ground.
I had to pause a few moments at the top of that slide trying to get my fear under control; what helped me was that other people, my mother included, said, “It’s alright. We’ll catch you at the bottom.”
I did go down that slide for the first time; my mom caught me before I flew off into the sand; and I loved climbing up the ladder and going down that slide over and over again.
Jesus first followers also were afraid many times.
In today’s Gospel reading, two of these followers, Thomas and Philip, ask Jesus questions that clearly tell us that they were afraid.
Jesus says he is going away and that his followers know where he is going. Thomas says no he does not know where Jesus is going so how can he know the way.
Jesus goes on to say that he is going to his father/mother and that if you know Jesus you also know the father/mother.
Philip gets into the conversation and tells Jesus that he’d feel a whole lot better if Jesus would just show the father/mother to him.
The rest of the reading has Jesus explain that if you see Jesus you also see God.
But the most important thing Jesus says that he wants his followers to hear, to help them with their fear, is that they do not need Jesus himself healing people and forgiving sin.
Jesus says that his followers, you and I, can and will do all the things that Jesus did and more because his breath, his spirit lives in us.
After our communion in the body and blood of Christ today some of us will take time together to demonstrate our belief that we do possess that healing power of Jesus. We will gather in the oratory, the chapel downstairs to pray with those who are discouraged, to touch with our hands those in need of healing, to anoint with oil those whose spirits may be wilting from long-standing pain.
This is what we do for one another, to build up the spiritual home we call church.
Our purpose in all this is to proclaim the goodness of God to the entire world.
We want you to know this, because we want you to accept this same call of Jesus and help us build up this spiritual home for the future.