Peter compares Christ to a ‘living stone’ and John has Jesus set himself as: ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life.’
The divine plan continues to be unfurled after the resurrection through the new “body” of Christ. It is present in all creation and also ‘gathered’ in the members of the Church, as sign and sacrament of this all-pervasive presence. And it is now, as throughout its long history, achieved by human trial and error – Hellenists and Hebrews slowly resolving disputes and difficulties by appealing to the primacy of the dialogue – the Word of God. The aim is, as always, not to confine the Word and the word to a few but to include all humanity in its grasp: ‘the word of the Lord continued to spread.’
Peter compares the Lord with a ‘living stone’ and asks his readers to ‘set yourselves close to him, so that you too may be living stones making a spiritual house.’ Peter then imagines the stone as either a cornerstone or a keystone – the former precious to believers, the latter a stumbling block for unbelievers. It is of the essence of God’s nature not to force humanity into partnership with Him – the only valid relationship is that between unforced partners. Humanity and individuals come freely into the Divine conversation – or not. The ‘Dialogue-Stone’ divides – but note no-one is excluded from the dialogue. Humanity has to choose to engage or not – the Rock is cornerstone or stumbling block. He concludes: ‘but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God’. Can we say, ‘chosen not for themselves but so that their song will be heard by all – to beckon all into the love of God’? God ‘chooses’ a race, a priesthood, a nation, a people to proclaim the word to all. The process of creating a ‘synodal church’ will fail unless it sets its sights firmly on that aim – of ‘walking with’ all other Christians, all other faiths and with all humanity.
John has Jesus set himself as: ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life.’ The dialogue is perfect now: ‘it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.’ God has communicated in dialogue with men and women as recorded in the Old Testament. Now the dialogue is Jesus. And Jesus is saying, as John has it, that God is living in him and is doing this work in him. It is no wonder many cannot accept this last great word of dialogue. The overlying message of the dialogue is that we must not be troubled, but trust in God. God’s aim is life for all humanity: there are many mansions in God’s house. There are many examples of people of all religions and of none who by a life of self-sacrificial love, without knowing Jesus, are nonetheless following his ‘Way’ of truth and of life.