Father Francisco delivered the Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. During his homily, Father mentioned St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who was an Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of the parishioners was born on June 17, 1955, the Feast of the Sacred Heart that year. Father Francisco also noted that St. Margaret Mary started the First Friday Devotion and a Thursday Devotion to the Concept of the gift of mercy, still practiced at our Cathedral and worldwide to this day.
Father noted the work of Saint Faustina Kowalska who worked tirelessly to promote the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He noted three core concepts in relation to the Sacred Heart. We must look at the violence in our world, including the violence directed at Jesus Christ, on the cross two millennium ago, We must also loot at the violence directed at Jesus Christ who lives on this planet and who has ever lived on this planet.
Many, including many at our own Cathedral in Reno Nevada, and in our Diocese of Reno, are confused in thinking that the first century rabbis should have read Torah in Septuagint Greek. If they had, they would have seen that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. This would be like asking the US Supreme Court to abandon all judicial precedent and US heritage and read the Constitution in Spanish when making its decisions.
The first century rabbis had Aramaic as their first language, and Hebrew as their academic language. They were like our modern Pope; the Lingua Franca of Rome is Latin, just as the Lingua Franca of Jerusalem was Hebrew. Why would they want to abandon their first and second languages and read Torah in translation, Septuagint Greek, which they were not necessarily fluent in? Also, our tradition, as per Dei Verbum states:
Since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.
In the Gospels Jesus often complains about the generation he lived in. We are wise to find fault in the culture we live in. The government wants to change the fuel economy rating on cars because people do not drive as well as they did forty years ago. Those who are older often comment about how people are not as smart as they were forty years ago. We are a generation completely different from the generation of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver. We are people of our heritage and our time. We need to see the people in history and ourselves as creators of their time. When we see people in the context of the web of time and space, we cannot help but have mercy on them.
One of the important tenants of Adlerian Psychology is that people tend to view reality as a concrete whole and they get their understanding of how to put that whole together through their community. People view their world as a concrete whole and they view the world through their world view, not ours. We need to see the world from the world view of the first century Jew if we are to understand why they did what they did or did not do. That society is two thousand years and eight thousand miles removed from our world and or world view. If we claim to understand their world view through the prism of our world view, we fool only ourselves. We must try to understand that world and its world view, while at the same time, understanding our extreme limitations, and this means mercy.
The second item Father mentioned about Divine Mercy Sunday is the importance of seeing God, not just as transcendent, beyond all knowing, but also imminent. Deuteronomy 5:2 The Personal Name, our Mighty Judge, made a Brit with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Brit, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.” Deuteronomy also states, “I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression out of the house of menial labor. It is not to your fathers… but with us, all of us, here, alive!” The Jewish community remembers this event at Passover. The Jewish Seder incorporates from Exodus 13:8: “You will explain to your son, ‘This is what the Personal Name did for me when I came out of Egypt/ Oppression.” He did not do it for someone else; he did it for me, personally. God did not rescue my fathers. He rescued me, personally. Therefore I remember what it was like to be there, and I remember my rescue. If I remember what it was like to be there, I will remember that suffering, and the excuses Pharaoh gave to rationalize that suffering. Then, when I see others suffer, it will hurt me, by bringing back bad memories. Then I will do something.
At Passover Jesus gave us the Last Supper. In the Last Supper, the Eucharist, Jesus comes for the first time, each time, with his mercy. Through our participation in the Eucharist, we relive that suffering with Christ, the excuses of the Pharisees and the Romans, and the anguish of his death. We remember the extreme poverty of the time and look at the poverty of our time. We also remember the fear of the eleven as they wait for the authorities to come after them.We remember this suffering, and then, when we see others suffer, we do something.
Horeb means sword, and many believe it was a volcano, probably at Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Standing at a volcano would be a very traumatizing experience. It is that moment when Jesus, part of the Trinity who is God, becomes imminent in our lives.
The third element of Divine Mercy Sunday is Hatikvah. That is the great hope of Jesus return and our return to the great City of Shalom/Peace/Tranquility. For this, Divine Mercy calls upon us to be thankful. Let us be thankful and show this thanks by spreading the mercy God gives us to the entire world.