Christ: the stone that shatters our idols
The last verse of Psalm 137—the famous song of exile—is always carefully ignored. After the poignant reminder of the tears of the deportees along the rivers of Babylon, the poet, addressing the bloody city, exclaims: “Happy is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Ps 137:9). The concluding verse of today’s gospel raises an embarrassment. It is not carried in the lectionary text. Referring to Christ—the stone which the builders rejected—the evangelist comments: “Whoever falls on this stone, he will be broken to pieces; on whomever this stone falls, he will be ground to dust” (Mt 21:44).
These images are disconcerting. They suddenly illumine each other if one catches their reference to the scene described in the book of Daniel: a stone—not driven by human hands—comes off from the top and hits a colossal, beautiful looking but terrible statue that collapses and falls apart (Dn 2:31-35). It’s the idol that, in his foolishness, man himself built and from its slavery he can no longer free himself. It is the unjust, corrupt and inhuman society man created and of which he remains a victim.
Christ and his gospel are “the stone” hurled by God against this monstrous structure. They are “the stone” that shatters the logic of this world, the tricks, cunning and above all the foolish images men made for themselves of God. The stone is intended to shatter the plans of the wicked and smash their children. The wicked will have no offsprings, will remain without posterity, and no future because God will vanish all doers of iniquity. This is the good news.
The great of this world—the builders of the new “Tower of Babel”—discard this stone because it does not fit their plans, it messes up their dreams, destroys their kingdoms. They tried to eliminate it but God chose it as the rock of salvation. Whoever puts it as foundation of his life will not be disappointed.
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“We are the Lord’s vineyard, which fruits can we offer him?”