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28th Week After Pentecost v Thursday 


   Titus 1:5-2:1  For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou
shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in
every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of
one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a
bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not
soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy,
temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that
he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the
gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,
specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who
subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy
lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The
Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is
true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the
faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that
turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them
that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind
and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works
they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good
work reprobate. But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:


   Luke 20:9-18   Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A
certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went
into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant
to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the
vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And
again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him
shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they
wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard,
What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will
reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they
reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill
him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the
vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard
do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give
the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written,  The
stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the
corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on
whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 




  The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of
the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on
whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.


  When we read the Holy Scriptures, if we are to benefit, we must
consider them to be words directed to us, with our eyes fixed on our
Lord's eyes as we sit at His feet. As we look into those eyes, how do we
feel? Are we comforted, encouraged, ashamed? Are we aware of our
incompleteness, our brokenness, as we are taught about things that we
barely do? What is our Lord saying to us, as his eyes shine with wisdom
and love, and yet also with such perfection and brightness that we feel
the sharp sting of self condemnation and shiver in the cold of our own


  He tells us of a stone, and we know He is speaking of Himself. The
corner stone is a heavy and perfectly formed stone, and upon it the
whole edifice rises. It is the foundation of all other stones, and for
the edifice to be strong, all these stones must also be perfectly
formed, and fitted to the corner stone. We know that we are to be these
stones, as He has told us "God is able of these stones to raise up
children unto Abraham." (Mat 3:9). We are "these stones" - common, rough
stones, which in being raised up to be children of Abraham (that is,
sons of God), will become smooth and perfected. In our Lord's words we
are comforted, as we see in His eyes His promise. 


  Even though we are poor and sinful, we are called to be the elect, to
be fitted to the corner stone, as the Apostle proclaims: "And are built
upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed
together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:" (Eph 2:20-21) And the
Apostle Peter agrees: "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture,
Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that
believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which
believe he is precious" (1 Pet 2:6-8)


  However, what is this that we then hear? "Whosoever shall fall upon
that stone  shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will 
grind him to powder." We see in His eyes that He is beckoning us to make
a choice, because this stone will do two things, depending on our
response to it. We can be broken, or ground to powder. Neither of these
sounds ?precious¦ to our ears. 


  When the Jews were stoned, a large stone was thrown on them from a
great height     . O, the agony! To be ground to powder and blown away
to the winds, forgotten and blotted out of the book of life! 


  We are faced with another choice - to fall upon the stone of our own
volition. An yet, to fall upon this stone means we will be broken - it
will hurt! But is this not a contradiction? If we are the stones to be
raised up to be sons of Abraham, and to be fitted to the corner stone,
how can we be of use to the building if our stone is broken? As we look
into His eyes, it is clear that He understands our perplexity, and His
expression tells us that there are no other choices. We, and all of
mankind are faced with only two ways, each of which we may freely take.
We can reject the corner stone, or embrace it. Either we will be ground
to powder, or broken; the choice is ours. 


  What does this mean - to be broken? In our soul, we hear, a still
small voice: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a
contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (Psa 50:17). We remember
when the Good Samaritan dressed the wounds of the man by the road.
Sometimes a wound must be lanced - broken, in order for the pus to be
drained, so that a healing balm may be added. So now we understand! We
must be broken in order for us to heal.


  However, just as the body dreads being hurt, so does our pride resist
being broken. O Lord, help us to throw ourselves upon Thee, and be
broken, that we would become whole! Our pride restrains us, so with
trembling we beg Thee, as Thou didst do to those out in the highways and
lanes, COMPEL us to fall upon Thee! We are too weak to always make this
choice, but we desire to! With St John the Damascene we cry: "But
whether I will it or not, save me!" (Evening prayers, Prayer of St John
Damascene which is to be said while pointing to the bed).