Living Stones & Padre Pio, 5th Sunday of Easter (A), May 2, 1999

Rev. Mr. Roger J. Landry
Vatican Radio Mass
5th Sunday of Easter, Year A
May 2, 1999
Acts 6:1-7; 1 Pt 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12

Today in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul is going to beatify the famous Italian Capuchin friar known throughout the world as Padre Pio. Hundreds of thousands of people have come to Rome for the celebration. And how fitting it is that the beatification will take place in St. Peter’s Square. The Colonnade that encloses the Square has 140 saints and blesseds looking down upon all those who have come to rejoice that Padre Pio is now among their. But if you look closely at these statues, you will notice something very striking: that each of them stands directly on top of a column of the colonnade. This is not merely coincidental. The symbolism is very important. What the architects wanted to show is what St. Peter was describing in the second reading of today’s Mass: that just as the columns are the foundation to the colonnade, so the saints are the foundations of the Church.

Yes, my brothers and sisters. The Church is not made out of inanimate slabs of marble or granite, but of living stones. Listen to St. Peter: Come to the Lord, a living stone.… You, too, are LIVING STONES, built into an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. God the Father has built his Church first on his Son, the Living Cornerstone, and the living stones of all the baptized, from the apostles, to Padre Pio, to you and me.

But what do we, as living stones, DO in this Church that God has built? St. Peter says we comprise a holy priesthood, offering sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The role of the priest, in general, is to offer sacrifices to God. The ordained priest has the ability to re-present the supreme sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross back to God the Father, just as Fr. Lefort is about to do here and now in union with Christ. But all of us — priests, deacons, lay people — are meant to offer our spiritual sacrifices to God throughout the day. What are these spiritual sacrifices? Certainly the hardships we endure each day, like helping out the needy as the deacons did in the first reading, but it also means the sacrifices of our time in prayer to God, and ultimately, sacrifice of our whole lives to God, in generous response to all he has given us in his love.

Our model in this, as in all things, is Jesus himself, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus’ whole life was one of offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God the Father. And by his dying and rising for us, he has made it possible for us to offer similar or even greater spiritual sacrifices. Listen again to the end of today’s Gospel: “I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in me will do the works I do, and much greater works than these.”

So, today, my brothers and sisters, let us rejoice that by our baptism we have been made living stones, capable of offering spiritual sacrifices to the Lord, and in Jesus, of literally building up the Church, which is a living edifice. It’s an edifice that will never be destroyed. As Jesus told us in the Gospel, he has gone to the Father to build a House there with many dwelling places fit for us. But how is he going to build that house? With us! He wants us to be the living stones of that heavenly mansion, with the now Blessed Padre Pio, with the 140 saints with statues in St. Peter’s Square, with Mary and the entire choirs of heaven. Let us now unite ourselves with all the saints and angels in that heavenly mansion, and with Christians throughout the world in this spiritual edifice of the Church, as we all offer the one, true, eternal Sacrifice of Jesus, to the Father, for our salvation. God bless you all!