There are many messengers who have been killed because the potency of their messages made their listeners decidedly uncomfortable. The names of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi stand out as international examples, but so too does our own Gene Miles.
While not literally killed, many of our artistes have found themselves crucified because they dared to hold up the mirror of our ugliness, greed, and corruption to our faces.
Biblically, John the Baptist might very well be the most famous, but then Jesus Himself was killed because His message challenged the status quo, called His followers to a new paradigm of living, and upended those who believed they alone held the keys to salvation.
Today’s gospel which sees the slaughter of the landowner’s servants and ultimately his son, challenges us to think again about our own roles as messengers of God, and how seriously we take that final exhortation at the end of our Eucharistic celebration, to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord”.
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we come to the Eucharist broken, confused and helpless, but we are reunited with Christ through the breaking of bread, and we return to the world “with burning hearts”. Truly, what we celebrate and what we are called to live are one and the same.
As Church, how have we done as messengers during this COVID-19 experience? How have we reached out to the tenants of this Trinbago vineyard? Have we brought messages of hope to our country amidst the anxiety over the unknown? Have the elderly and shut-ins in our parish communities been further isolated now that they cannot even receive their Jesus on a monthly basis? Have we sufficiently utilised the available technology to reach out to our young people who already had difficulty hearing us? What have we put in place for Rahner’s “anonymous Christians”, our unchurched yet faithful tenants who still desire to hear the Word of God?
The Church in Trinidad and Tobago must continue its mission of proclaiming the Good News about God. It is a message that will challenge even the most stubborn of heart, but yet bring equal comfort to the most broken of heart.
It is this Good News that offers hope to our repentant prodigal children and heals the wounds of sin occasioned by our selfishness and greed with courage and determination.
As Pope Francis himself reminds us, “Truly the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is found and revealed.” What good will it do if the Good News is locked up in our closed churches, or only “livestreamed” to those with internet capacity?
Today the call for messengers to not only proclaim the gospel, but live it out, must go out from Bayshore to Beetham, from Carenage to Charlotteville and to the four corners of this Trinbago vineyard.
Especially in this time of dwindling vocations to the priesthood and religious life, each one of us is called to action, each one of us is called to service.
We might be killed, but we will live.