Thursday, December 30, 2010

"only mercy until we close our eyes..."

Last evening, between Evening Prayer and supper, I turned on the t.v. for just a minute and watched an episode of the Loretta Young Show on EWTN. The title of this particular show is Three and Two, Please. It originally aired 16 December 1956. In the episode, Loretta plays Sister Ann, a nun working in a Catholic hospital on Christmas Eve. What stands out in my mind is something she said to the rich, crotchety, sick, but lonely old man, Mr. Atherton, who is really longing for companionship, as she is disturbing him by re-arranging his private room in order to put a young boy, Guermo, who has not heard from his father and is worried about Christmas, in with him.

What follows is my paraphrase of the dialogue that struck me:

Mr. Atherton: Is there no justice in this world?

Sister Ann: In this world there is no justice, only mercy until we close our eyes, then there is justice.

This put me in mind of what the Holy Father wrote in his encyclical letter Spe Salvi:
"The encounter with [Christ] is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation 'as through fire'. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God" (par. 47).
As a deacon I am privleged to pour the water into the wine during the liturgy as I say, sotto voce: "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity." Indeed, this is the point of the Incarnation, there is no other. "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Ps. 51:10).

As Deacon Greg reminds us today, no matter how hopeless things look, through Christ, in Christ, and with Christ, there is always hope. For Christians, the theological virtue of hope is not synonymous with wish. Let those who have eyes see what hope looks like, it is not ephemeral, but real and concrete, like the babe born in Bethlehem.

Veni adoramus

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