A Reflection for Chaplains

I was asked to give a brief reflection (on the indicated scriptural reading) for a group of hospital chaplains.  It was a humbling experience…

Matthew 16: 15-18

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

***

Imagine you are that rock.  Imagine you are that rock… upon which church is built.

I don’t know about you, but there are days when I am like a rock.  I am like a precious jewel that gleams on a royal chest plate or shines at the edge of a golden goblet.

There are days when I am like the rock that anchors a base and upon which others will depend.  On those days, I call myself “capstone”, “cornerstone”… “the foundation”.

There are days when I am like a rock that is a living stone and on those days I build myself into a spiritual house.

And speaking of my house, there are days when I am wise and set it up upon rock so that it can withstand the rains and the floods… and the winds and the storms.  And on those days, I do not fall.

There are days when I am like a rock that forms a stone pillar… and I do not topple over.

And on all of those days… I feel strong and complete and ready.

I don’t know about you, but there are days… when I am like another kind of rock.  I am like the stone in a wall and I stand between and I separate and I guard.  If I wore a sign, it would say “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” or “Beware of Dog”.

There are days when I am the rock that crumbles, when no safe thing should rest upon me.

There are days when I am the rock that is hurled at others… and though I am not without sin, I can be the first to be thrown.

And I’ve never envisioned a hammer colliding with the nail… but rather a large and heavy stone that is grasped in a strong and muscular hand.  And I am so aware of a loud and piercing crash of that stone upon a nail and through a hand and into the wood.

Paul said… Paul Simon said: “I’ve built walls, a fortress deep and mighty.  That none may penetrate.  I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.  It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.  I am a rock.  I am an island.”  And there are the days like that too.

But you… you stand outside of the heavy wooden door.  You pause and there are days when you know exactly what awaits… but there are days when you do not and so you breathe deeply and you knock and you walk right in…

And on those days you approach one who has stood outside of a stone wall.  Or one who has rested upon a wall that crumbled.  Or one who has felt the sting of a rock that was hurled.  Or one who understood the piercing crash of a stone upon a nail and through a hand and into the wood.  Or one who has built a fortress deep and mighty.

And on those days…

Imagine you are that rock.  Imagine you are that rock… upon which church is built.

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