O Rex Gentium

O King of the Nations

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save us,
whom you formed from the dust.

I wondered, at first glance, whether this might be a tough antiphon for us to read today. Kings and nations, of 1000 years ago and in the centuries since, have spent a lot of energy trying to make Jesus ratify the power of tyrants and endorse oppression and empire. I’m not interested in continuing that legacy.

But then I took a closer look at the images that these authors of long ago chose to preserve in their antiphon. Jesus is the cornerstone—a metaphor which evokes castles and citadels—but we know too that he is the cornerstone that the builders rejected.  Something about Jesus’ foundation is different from the foundations of the kingdoms and conventions of this world, which tend to build empires and wars as often as anything useful or good, it seems.

Jesus the cornerstone links our God-given ability to build with some deeper desire which is within us all, which is searching for a different way. Jesus shares with us the vision and reality of God’s kingdom, and he is the one who can transform the forces that enslave us. Our King is a builder too, one who comes all the way down to earth to live and labor among us, and to breathe new life into the dust.

--Anne Clarke, MDiv student

© 2012 Church Divinity School of the Pacific