Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
Fifth Sunday of Easter: Precious in the Eyes of the Lord
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings
but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
and, like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
That is the beginning of today’s second reading, taken from the second chapter of the First Letter of Peter. It contains some of the most reassuring verses in Scripture. We are called living cornerstones of the Church, built into a holy priesthood. We are called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people the Lord claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the one who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
And we are called precious in the eyes of the Lord. We are invaluable. We are cherished. We are highly esteemed. We are loved. We are precious.
Why? Does God love us so much because of something that we have done? Why are we so precious to Him?
Well, why do you, why do we love our children? Why are our children so precious to us? Is it because of what they do? No. Sure, there are many times that we are proud of our children's accomplishments. But we love them even without their accomplishments. When you first held your children as infants, you could not believe you had so much love in you. Yet, the baby did not do anything. Why, then did you love that baby? Why do you love your children? You love them for whom they are, not for what they do. Your child is your love and your spouse’s love now a unique person loving you back. You see God's love in your child. You see a reflection of God's beauty in your child.
Why does God love us? Why are we so precious to Him? He loves us for whom we are, unique reflections of His love in the world. He loves us because He sees in each of us the love He has for his Son, Jesus. He loves us because each of us is a unique reflection of the Love that became flesh in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the rock that has been rejected by the world but has become the cornerstone of the New World. We are the living cornerstones. The Church is the building of the spirit of God. We are the Church. Jesus is the great high priest who was rejected by the status quo and thrown out of the Temple, crucified outside the city. We are rejected by the intellectually arrogant atheists who control so much of our media and society. We are thrown out of the City of Man and laughed at as naive remnants of an ignorant age. But we remain here in the City of God. We are a holy priesthood, people carrying on the priestly ministry by making God present to others and others present to God. Jesus is the Light of the World, the one who dispels the darkness of sin. We are the people of the Light. We are called to bring hope and light to a world living in fear and darkness.
We are precious to God because He sees his Son at work in us.
Therefore, we have to be aware of and attune to our dignity as children of God. We have to treat ourselves and each other with the respect a child of God deserves. We teach our children to respect themselves. We’ll say to a Teen who gets caught doing something very bad that he or she needs to have more respect for himself or herself. We all need to respect ourselves more. There is no doubt about it. There are many times that we are tempted to go along with a philosophy of life that treasures actions that are in themselves self destructive. Sometimes our lives follow the basic plot lines of many TV series:
1-A person looks for self gratification.
2-That person does not consider the impact of his actions upon himself or upon anyone else.
3-The person reasons that he or she has the right to this action.
4-The person hurts himself and those whom he loves.
5-Then the person has loses respect for himself and for others.
I've done this in various degrees. And I am sure that if you are honest, you have done this too. I've started with thinking that something is OK for me, even if it isn't necessarily, totally proper; maybe it’s a bit of a lie, maybe a nasty remark, maybe something a lot worse. Then I and you have witnessed the results of our actions and felt pretty low. One thing worse than being called a fool is knowing that it is true.
Out of respect for myself, out of respect for yourselves, out of respect for the dignity that God has given us in calling us to be children of God, out of respect for the precious image of his Son that you and I have been called to bring to the world, we have to avoid these self destructive situations. We have to convince ourselves that it is beneath our dignity to join the immorality of the world.
We are precious to the Lord. We carry the image of His Son within us. We must hold our heads up through the muck of society. We have to have enough self respect to avoid degrading ourselves by giving in to what everyone else says is acceptable in this modern day but what we know is unacceptable in any day.
We have to stand tall with the Lord. For we are the Church, we are the royal priesthood, we are the people whom God has chosen to bring light to all who live in darkness. May the choices we make in life be only those that reflect the dignity we have been gifted with by the Lord of life.
We need to remember that we are precious in the eyes of God.