When I was a little girl I loved nothing more than to throw stones into the sea. My grandparents used to take me to the sea front at Llandudno and I would spend a long time picking my choice of stones from the huge piles on the shore. My favourite stones were the ones that looked like all the others but had a little bit of sparkle hidden inside of them. I used to hold them in my hand and rotate them and see the sunlight transform them into something beautiful.
When I read the Gospel set for today my attention was caught by the first sentence describing the temple being adorned with beautiful stones. Jesus is stood outside the temple and in the verses before has just watched a widow place all she owned into the temple collection, Jesus declared how she has given more than anyone else because that’s all she had.
After this, Jesus gazes at the structure of the temple and foretells its destruction. I imagine him standing there visualising the kingdom that he has come to build and seeing each of the beautiful stones that adorn the temple as the people, us, the living stones built together to make a spiritual house.
Here in today’s reading and in the offering of the widow, we have this rich imagery of beautiful stones and offerings to God, and Jesus standing in front of us calling us to embody these things.
How do we become beautiful in the eyes of Jesus?
It’s got nothing to do with how we look or what we wear it’s about whether people can see the sparkle inside us, the light that is Jesus Christ within us. The hope that he brings, the hope that he spoke into the existing foundations of the temple he gazed upon.
The challenge for us is Can in these times of political turmoil and uncertainly, we be the light in the darkness.
Can we offer the glimmer of hope in a time that threatens to control the hopes and aspirations of all, that tries to monetise all aspect of the coming season, can we be the voices that call out for us to slow down and gaze on our Lord like the way he hopes and gazes upon us as beautiful children loved and built up by Him.
Jesus warms us to have endurance against these times of trial, that we don’t lose our light when we are pressurised, stressed, fearful, and bereft. When these times come he is the one who strengthens us when we offer ourselves wholly, with everything that we have to give to Him.
It is in this abandonment of ourselves that our beauty shines through, like the stones I found on the beach in Llandudno that looked ordinary until the sun shone on them,
let us be the glimmer of hope that is Jesus Christ within us, let us be the living stones, the beautiful stones that adorn our spiritual house as the body of Christ.
Lord help us to find that hope within us today and give us strength to be able to radiate that light everywhere we go this week.