Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: May 31, 2020
“But I’m just a small piece of coloured stone”!
Picture a small square or rectangle of coloured stone or glass about 10mm or ½” in size talking to another small piece and making this statement.
A small piece with its own colour, lustre, translucency, and texture.
This is what I imagine two or more stones from a beautiful mosaic saying to each other during their daily chat.
“How can I be important?” “I am not noticeable”, or “I am too small to matter.”
And yet, when we observe a mosaic image in a church, we see so much more.
In our trip last year to Italy, we saw amazing mosaics over 1000 years old, still with their shine, still able to evoke our emotions and touch our souls.
In our own parish we have beautiful mosaic stations of the cross at Our Lady of Lourdes site.
These stations from what we can tell are over 70 years old and were hand made in Italy using techniques such as burlap to reinforce the concrete backing.
The craftsmanship and beauty ensured that we would not abandon these pieces of art when we make our move to the new parish site. They have been restored and enhanced to allow another 70 years of parishioners to have their own hearts and souls impacted.
This image of little individual stones inside a larger picture, is the message that the readings today on this feast of Pentecost convey to us.
Many times, in our lives, I am sure we feel like individual Christians, small, insignificant and having no impact on the live and faith of the church.
But these feelings would be wrong.
Just like the individual stones, we are all individuals, no two the same, and we each make up a key component of the entire mosaic of the church.
St. Paul gives this same message to the Corinthians and to us “brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed”.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
What a powerful message for us! Each of us as individuals has a unique gift, a special service, a strength for activity in the church.
Each of us gets to sparkle with our own colour, lustre, translucency and texture.
In order to bring forth the power of the Holy Spirit in us for the common good!
Our little stone, or piece of marble is a part of the greater mosaic of God’s love that is the church in the world today.
And just like 4 or 5 stones in a mosaic make an image of an eye or a smile; when we bring our gifts together with others, we can bring talents together for an RCIA program, or a way to feed the poor.
We may think that our stone doesn’t matter, but if you look at a mosaic, if a stone is missing, then the image does not have the same effect!
Each of us is called, each of us is loved, each of us is important to the Body of Christ.
Just as all apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they didn’t end up having the same mission.
St. Peter went to Syria and Rome, St. John to Turkey, Simon and Jude to Armenia and St. Thomas to India.
We are the same! We bring our gifts and talents of prayer, wisdom, knowledge, faith, joy and love to unique places. One brings it to Dofasco, another to McMaster, another to Limeridge Mall, another to the hospital, etc.
And the beauty is that when all of us are seen together as a whole image, the world sees the Christian faith and the love of God being done to make the world a better place and to bring the kingdom of God to the here and now.
The gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the same we received at our baptisms and you can picture it as the concrete in the mosaic that binds all the pieces together!
When we proclaim in the psalm – send out your Spirit O Lord and renew the face of the earth, it is we who are sent out. The psalm does not speak of this as a one-time thing, but a continuous process.
This appearance of the mosaic also helps us understand the Body of Christ and the church itself.
Sometimes we may focus on one part of the image only and miss the whole thing. If we are focused on a particular challenge of the church like some of the recent abuses, or a rule or law we don’t like; then we can miss the entire picture, like the growth of the faith in southern hemisphere and the power of love that is shown.
If we focus on the current trials and tribulations in North America, we would miss what I saw in India with 500 children singing acapella the morning hymns in a rural church in India; or the Sunday mass at 7am in Zimbabwe with the church bursting and the children seated all over the sanctuary as there was no other space.
This is one thing I love about Pope Francis – he has us focused to the peripheries – he has nominated cardinals from the farthest corners of the world in order to ensure every part of the mosaic is seen, not just the middle.
The mosaic of the faith over 2000 years has had ups and downs, highs and lows, but through it all the gospel, the Good News of Christ continues to grow, and love and peace continue to shine forth.
So, what can we do individually? In the advice of St. Catherine of Siena – “be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!”
This is great guidance for us when we look inwards sometimes and say:
“But I’m just a small piece of coloured stone”