O Rex gentium


O King of the Nations,
yea, and the desire thereof,
the Corner-stone
that makest both one:
come and save man,
whom Thou hast made out of the clay of the earth.

...and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory.
      Hg 2.7

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
      Ep 2.14–20

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
      Ps 118.22;  Mt 21.42; Mk 12.10; Lk 20.17; Ac 4.11

The passage from Haggai was written ‘in the second year of King Darius’ [of Persia], that is, 520 bce. This was eighteen years after Cyrus of Persia had conquered Babylon and issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Judea. Work had begun, and then stopped, on the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem; Haggai was concerned that the work should continue, and his prophecy urges that God will be with Israel, that the Temple will be restored, that ‘the latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former’. Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah at the time, is included in Our Lord’s genealogies. The ‘desire of nations’ has easily been identified with Christ, and this phrase is found in a number of hymns. Christ is the one who, in St Paul’s original context, makes Jews and Gentiles one people – but we may also say more broadly that He makes heaven and earth one, for His is a ministry of reconciliation in which, as the Prayer Book Catechism says, is the ministry in which we, His Body the Church, participate.