Advent 2014: ‘O Rex Gentium’

Advent 2014: ‘O Rex Gentium’

Cornerstone of the church of the monastery of Chalais“O King of the Nations, whom they desire, and the cornerstone, who join two together into one: come and save mankind, whom you formed from the clay.”

In many Norman and Gothic churches, it is to be noticed that cornerstones have become a dedicated places for ornaments. Usually, cornerstones are sculpted and painted in order to represent coats of arms, episodes of lives of saints and other religious patterns. Moreover, these ornaments turn out to have deep theological meanings.

The church of the monastery of Chalais in the French Alps, today occupied by Dominican nuns, is a case in point. This Norman church was built during the 12th century. The cornerstone above the sanctuary represents the Lamb of God, with writing around it saying “grant us peace” (see image above). This is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, of whom John the Baptist announced the coming.

Certainly, this cornerstone makes a reference to the psalm 118: I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvellous in your eyes. Indeed, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was rejected and sacrificed himself on the cross. But, by his resurrection, he has become our salvation, the head of the Kingdom of God. He is the true cornerstone, the highest stone that makes the building of God hold together.

In today’s antiphon, we glorify Jesus Christ as the King of the nations, the cornerstone who joins two together into one. By sending his Son to live among us, God the Father joined the divine and the human together into one. Jesus Christ is indeed true man and true God. This means that God assumes the human condition, at the risk of being rejected and dying on a cross. But he has become the cornerstone that makes all mankind, formed from clay, the true people of God, called to share in the life of God himself.

By his incarnation, God reveals to us how he loves and cares for mankind, to the extent of giving his life for us. In many ways, this is puzzling. But, in the end, this strengthens our real desire to share in the joy and love of God. Christmas is definitely the feast of amazement and wonder. Let us open our hearts and be filled with wonder. Then we will be able to sing: Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty; Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! (Rev 15:3)


Christ in majesty, Conques