I’ve got one particular problem with the English language. It concerns my ministry among you. As you perfectly know, there are very few pronunciation rules in English, and even they have a lot of exceptions. So, actually I have to check pronunciation of many words in a dictionary. But the dictionary doesn’t contain all of the biblical names of people and places. A few times I’ve asked some native English speakers (priests and nuns) about the accurate pronunciation – you can’t imagine my astonishment when they didn’t know. If native speakers don’t know accurate pronunciations, how could I know them? So, I’m glad that the gospel tonight was read by deacon Vincent; the gospel packed with names and places.
Tonight the gospel is not designated to humiliate an incompetent priest from Poland. It shows the very important meaning of the God’s providence and love – in my opinion this reflects the crucial difference between true religion and magic or superstition. In today’s gospel names and places have a particular significance: they tell us that the word of God comes in ordinary, everyday life. Saint Luke speaks to us about particular people, who governed in particular countries. These details allow us to find specific moment in history, when the word of God came to Saint John the Baptist – a completely unknown and anonymous person, with no power or influence.
I think it’s very important for us to realise that God always makes the very first move. He’s been walking around calling each one by name, like in the garden of Eden: “Where are you, Adam?” God speaks to us his word in the circumstances of our life, and the word always concerns our life. God loves you and wants to help you. This is his purpose. He looks after you just because he loves you, despite your position and importance. The only reason for God to love you is yourself.
The word of God is not magic; it doesn’t work without your involvement. The word of God is not a magic charm, but an invitation to cooperate with God. Saint John the Baptist walked about and proclaimed the word of God – but nobody was forced to accept it and to follow it. Some people acknowledged John as God’s messenger; some people didn’t. This is the nature of God’s word – it respects human freedom of choice.
The word of God in tonight’s gospel is a quotation of the prophet Isaiah, told and written hundreds years earlier. Saint John found in these words meaning of his life. Our job is to recognize the meaning of God’s word for us and then apply it in our lives. We need to do just one thing: to make space for God in our hard-pressed, noisy life and listen to him. He is speaking to you. Always.