Jesus changed our first pope’s name from “Simon” to “Peter.” He would have called him “Petros” in Greek or “Cephas” in Aramaic, both names meaning “stone.” One of the fruits of reflection upon that name is found in the first letter of Peter, chapter 2, verses 4-8. It is a passage that identifies Christ as a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God. And it says that Christians should, like living stones, let ourselves be built into a spiritual house.
One of the better stones for building purposes is limestone. It is used in roads, houses and cathedrals. It has a uniform consistency and it ages beautifully. Most importantly: it is easy to cut. It can be split in any direction, without reference to the direction of its grain. Thus, it can be planed, sawed and carved into almost any shape.
This last aspect of limestone, its ability to be cut by the mason in any direction, is a quality that we might emulate as we open ourselves to God’s designs. The limestone cannot understand the artisan’s intentions, but it allows itself to be shaped and fitted into something much bigger than itself. Even the humblest stone finds a place and makes a contribution to the builder’s plan.