Our celebration of two apostles recalls the establishment of the church, as today’s first reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians states, “…built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.” The image of the capstone may be foreign to some but to those having familiarity with buildings constructed during the Roman Empire, it made great sense. Romans perfected the arch, a building technique they took from the Etruscans, residents of Italy before the Romans made it their own. The arch comprised a semi-circle of carved stones held together by the pressure of the top stone. The pressure radiating down the sides of the arch kept the arch intact. Take out the capstone and the arch falls to pieces. This image used by Paul was an architectural and urban one, perhaps more familiar to Christians living in the cities of Ephesus, Rome, and Colossae, than the homey agrarian images of Jesus who talked about sheep and vines. There are, as you know, no sheep in Paul’s letters. Whatever image we choose, whether a vine, a sheep, or a brick, God’s word reminds us that our strength comes from union with Christ and separating ourselves from the union we know as his church will do us no good.