The temple of Jerusalem was among the most impressive and beautiful buildings in the world of its day. The reconstruction begun by King Herod the Great many years before the birth of Jesus was still continuing during Jesus’ public ministry and would continue for many years after his death.
In our second reading this Sunday, Peter uses the image of temple construction to express the unity of Christians as a living temple built up for God’s glory. Into this living temple, people may enter and experience the presence of God. Paul uses this same image in Ephesians 2:19-22 and in 1 Corinthians 3:16.
The image of the stone rejected, used by Peter in our second reading, comes from Psalm 118:22 in which the stone rejected becomes the cornerstone. The other stones in a building are to be aligned or oriented in relation to the cornerstone. So it is in relationship to Jesus Christ. There is an account of Michelangelo carving the famous sculpture of David from a rejected stone. Due to numerous irregular veins that rendered it prone to fracture easily, the huge block of marble had previously been rejected by many more experienced sculptors. Michaelangelo “saw” David in the stone and then “freed” him with his carving. Many of Jesus’ contemporaries could not see God present in him, but those who received the gift of spiritual vision would be freed by him.