As I reflect on today’s Psalm 24, I have just spent five hours watching the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyennes at the Paramount. The doomed Trojans tore down their gates in order to let in the Horse, the gift of the Greeks, into their city. The rest is (mythical) history.
In a complete turn-about, today’s Psalm 24 asks us to “Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors, and the great king will come in. Who is this great king? He is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, victorious in battle.” The Hebrew scriptures ask us for a fearless trust in our God—a task which we, like Cassandra, may find inspires fear, not confidence.
Just as Cassandra was a prophetess of doom to the Trojans, our Old Testament reading is the opening sentences of the Prophet Jeremiah. Both Cassandra and Jeremiah have become eponymous for doomsayers. Jeremiah warned God’s people that catastrophe was about to befall them.
I think we cannot create a division between the words of our faith, and the reality of the world around us. There are plenty of Cassandras and Jeremiahs warning us about the plight of the poor, the warming of the planet, the state of our political system. What answers are we given to these fearsome warnings?
St. Paul to the Corinthians asks us to build our foundation with “. . . Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid.” And finally in the Gospel of Mark, we have the familiar parable of the sower and the seeds. It would be easy and presumptive, and perhaps a little self righteous, to imagine that we are the good soil bearing thirty, sixty or a hundred fold. But both Cassandra and Jeremiah put some proper concern, awareness, and a little fear, that we need to have some concern for the future and that we need to act significantly in ways that will heal ourselves and our world.