In today’s first reading and the responsorial Psalm, we find a similar phrase repeated: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
In this phrase, we find one of the patterns in the way that God works throughout all of scripture. He takes those things rejected or looked down upon by the world and raises them to a place of prominence.
This is essentially what God does with the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 7:7, Moses states “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples.” Yet the Lord loves them and raises them to a place of prominence, though this doesn’t necessarily imply that he completely rejects all other people (see Amos 9:7).
In the same way, Peter takes this phrase from the Book of Psalms – “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and he applies it to Jesus. Many of those around Jesus despised and rejected him; however, it is Jesus that God exalts because he humbled himself to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8ff).
We learn the lesson today that we must be careful of the people or things that we reject or despise. Often God chooses these very people or things. And perhaps, rather than despising them, we need to be taught by them.