domenica 13 novembre 2016

Providentia et misericordia

Today we have celebrated the solemnity of Our Lady of Divine Providence, Titular of the Mission Church and Patroness of the Mission, and have closed the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. So, the homily is about these two special events.

Today we celebrate the patronal festival of Our Lady of Divine Providence. Today we are also going to close the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. So, we are invited to fix our eyes on two important attributes of God: Providence and Mercy. Not only Christians believe in a provident and merciful God, but even believers of other religions do.

If we believe in God—and we can come to establish the existence of God even by our natural reason—if we believe that he created the world, we have also to believe that he governs it by his providence. There was a philosophy called “deism,” which maintained that God, after creating the world and man, would not take care of them. But this makes no sense: how might a father not mind his child after giving birth to it? The Catechism tells us that “Divine Providence consists in the dispositions with which God leads his creatures toward their ultimate end.” Creation is not perfect; it has to attain perfection. So God, by his providence, guides creation toward its fulfilment. 

While it is fairly easy to discover divine providence by simply reasoning—the ancient pagans already did—we cannot say the same about mercy. Usually, when people think of God, they imagine him as a just and severe judge, who gives everyone according to their works. If a judge were merciful, it would be a sign of weakness. That is why it took a special revelation to know God’s mercy. When God revealed himself to Moses, he said: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex 34:6). We share this belief with Jews, and with Muslims as well. Before each surah of Quran we find the phrase “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” These are also the first of the 99 names of God in Islam. And yet, despite the importance of this attribute, if we take the “Denzinger”—that is, the collection of all the declarations of catholic faith—and search for “mercy” in the index, we do not find it. Maybe for this reason God has willed that nowadays Christians should rediscover this aspect of his mystery. Saint Faustina Kowalska started in the first half of last century, with her revelations about Divine Mercy. After her, we had the long pontificate of Saint John Paul II: he contributed to the spreading of the Divine Mercy devotion, established its liturgical feast on the Sunday after Easter and canonized Sister Faustina. Now we have Pope Francis that emphasizes the mystery of God’s mercy and has proclaimed this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, that we are going to close this evening. 

We can consider the connection of the Blessed Virgin Mary with both these attributes of God, Providence and Mercy. Since she is Mother of God, she is also Mother of Divine Providence and Mother of Mercy. Today’s gospel (Jn 2:1-11) shows the role Mary plays in the so-called “economy of salvation.” It is a role of mediation: Mary intercedes with his Son for the wedding guests. It is exactly what she keeps doing in heaven for all humanity: with her prayer, she asks the providence and mercy of God to show themselves to us. And we know that Mary’s prayer, unlike ours, is “almighty,” almighty by grace. So, if we need God’s providence and mercy, let us turn confidently to her. We won’t be disappointed.