My Dear Sisters and Brothers! As Christians we treasure the Bible, we read, meditate and pray it. Although the Sacred Book has such a prominent place in our life and worship we are not a religion of a book. We are the religion of the Word of God. The Blessed Trinity gave us the Word: the only begotten Son of the Father of whom St John in the Gospel spoke as the Word. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ Physics tell us that in the vacuum a voice cannot be heard. If the voice cannot be heard words cannot be heard either. In the vacuum there is just silence. However the Trinity is not the reality of dead silence. There is a dialogue, there is speaking and listening. The communion of the Blessed Persons is the space which allows the loving communication to happen. The reason that we don’t call ourselves a religion of a book is that we have been given a space where the Word of God can resonate. It is the community of the Church; the community of people who gathered in the name of the Lord live his presence, listen to his voice and receive his Body and Blood. Jesus himself said: ‘If two or three are gathered in my name I am there among them.” The Bible itself is a proof for that. The Bible is a testimony of a community which was created as the space for the Lord to speak his life-giving and life-saving Word. In order to truly savour the Word of God we need a community of disciples. It gives as an experience of being spoken to by the Lord himself, not just reading something inspiring of him.
The responsorial Psalm for today is one of the most loved and treasured pieces of literature. The author who wrote: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want,’ verbalised his experience of being a part of the flock. He gave us this most uplifting Psalm about God because the author followed God with his fellow believers. This Psalm, which speaks so strongly to us and is often chosen for the times when we find ourselves lost and down, came from someone who believed not on his own but in a community.
If we keep this origin of Psalm 23 in mind we can appreciate the effort of God, pictured as king in the Gospel for this Sunday, who kept sending his prophets and apostles to gather people for a banquet, to create of them a community where they could hear his Word, where they could be transformed, where they could be healed of their sins. God did not send his messengers with copies of the Bible but with an invitation to a community where the living Word could resonate.
The destruction mentioned in the parable could leave us confused. We can wonder how God could allow something like that happen. Well, Jesus spoke a parable, but it did happen in 70 AD when Roman destroyed Jerusalem. However historians inform us that the majority of Christians did not perish during the annihilation as they left the city at the sight of the approaching army. They did this because in their community they treasured the words of Christ: ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate. Then those in Judea must escape to the mountain, those inside the city must leave it.’ We can imagine those Christians trying to convince others to do the same but their fellow Jews did not believe the words of Christ. They believed that they were safe in the city. The Christians however took to heart Jesus’ prophesy and when they saw the signs they took off. They believed the words of Christ not the big walls and skills of defending army.
My Dear Friends! I can imagine how broken-hearted they must have been when their relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues refused to believe. In our society we experience something similar. People we love and care about dismiss the Word of God. We however are called to be the space where the Word of God can resonate. We are called to be the community where people can not only read the Bible but they can hear the Lord Jesus speaking his life-giving and life –saving word.
We are whom we hear.