7. Christ, the Cornerstone

D.    Eph. 2:20Christ the chief cornerstone

The day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His cleansing of the temple, Jesus spoke to the chief priests and elders saying, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?’” (Mt. 21:42).  In willing the Incarnation, God has indeed done what is wonderful in our eyes.  He is the Divine Architect of the universe who, in His immense love and goodness, freely chose to communicate Himself ad extra to a created nature in a most perfect way: union with Him in the Person of the Word.  From all eternity God foreordained the Incarnation and willed that Jesus Christ be the “the chief cornerstone.”  (Eph. 2:20).

This is God’s eternal decree: His plan is to build a Temple and fill it with His glory.  He wills this in a most orderly manner so that the entire universe and its history unfold “according to His good pleasure” (Eph. 1:9) with a fixed purpose in mind.

First, God knows and loves Himself.  Then, He loves that which is nearest to Himself, namely the sacred humanity of Jesus—He predestines Christ to the greatest possible glory by way of the hypostatic union and He foreordains that Christ be the secure foundation of His Temple[1]; in that same decree He also predestines Mary Immaculate to the maximum grace and glory (after Christ) by way of virginal and divine maternity.  Then, God loves angels and men by predestining them to be part of His Temple in, through, and unto Christ Jesus, their chief cornerstone.  “In Him the whole structure is closely fitted together and grows into a temple holy in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21).

To the Jewish people there was a keen sense that the temple was a microcosm of the entire universe.[2]  Indeed the temple of Jerusalem was made according to a meticulous, divine pattern (cf. Ex. 25-28; Heb. 8:5).  Yet, even in all its splendor, this temple was still a “mere copy” of the true Temple (Heb. 9:24).

Where is the true Temple to be found?  Where is this Exemplary Cause containing in itself all the perfections of the created universe?  Hear the voice of the Father and watch His Glory descend and fill His Temple: “And behold, the heavens were opened…, and he [John the Baptist] saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and coming upon Him.  And behold, a voice from the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (Mt. 3:16-17).

Jesus Christ is the Temple foreseen before the ages and predestined to give perfect glory to the Triune God: “I have glorified Thee on earth; I have accomplished the work that Thou hast given Me to do.”  (Jn. 17:4).  Jesus Christ is furthermore filled most perfectly with God’s glory: “And now do Thou, Father, glorify Me with Thyself, with the glory that I had with Thee before the world existed” (Jn. 17:5).

While Jesus is God’s true and perfect Temple in and of Himself, nonetheless, God has made Him the chief cornerstone of the Temple which is His Body, the Church (cf. Jn. 2:19-21; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23).  Christ is the first one predestined, the main cornerstone of the foundation.  God sees Him first in His intention: For in Him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible” (Col. 1:16).   Then He wills to create and order all things “through and unto Him” so that all is built upon Jesus as the chief cornerstone—“In Him the whole structure is closely fitted together and grows into a temple holy in the Lord, in Him you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22; cf. 2 Cor. 6:16).

Thus angels and men are predestined to grace and glory in Him: “And the glory that Thou hast given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one” (Jn. 17:22).  In Christ we are to glorify God and to be filled with God’s glory.  God orders everything to this end.  And so St. Paul writes of “building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ… and so grow up in Him who is the head, Christ.  For from Him the whole body… derives its increase to the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16; cf. Rm. 8:28).  The more we mature to our full stature in Christ, the more perfectly we will glorify God and be filled with His glory.

This is God’s eternal plan—that Jesus Christ be the King of all creation and Lord of all the universe.  We speak of an absolute primacy willed by God for its own sake; a primacy not occasioned by a lesser good nor an evil act committed by a creature.  He alone is “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Apoc. 21:6).  As “the Blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15; cf. Apoc. 17:14; 19:16), Jesus Christ is subject to no one save His Father in Heaven.  And since the divine plan has now been realized in the “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4) and since the mystery of Christ has now been proclaimed throughout the world (cf. Col. 1:25-2:3), we are duty bound to: “Draw near to Him, a living stone, rejected indeed by men but chosen and honored by God.  Be you yourselves living stones, built thereon into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  Hence Scripture says, ‘Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, chosen, precious; and he who believes in it shall not be put to shame.’” (1 Pt. 2:4-5).


Ave Maria!

[1] Cf. Fr. Dominic Unger, OFM Cap., Christ Jesus the Secure Foundation: According to St. Cyril of Alexandria, in FS vol.7, no.1, 3, 4 (1947).

[2] Cf. Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, c.7, 179-180, reported in The Works of Josephus, trans. by William Whiston (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, 1988) 90; cf. also The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, c.11, 458-459 (also in The Works of Josephus).