Sunday, 21 February 2016

His mercy lasts forever: a Year of Mercy pilgrimage

The psalter for the Sunday of Week 2, as used in the English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours, includes Psalm 17 (118):
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love endures for ever.  
Let the sons of Israel say: 'His love endures for ever'.  
Let the sons of Aaron say: 'His love endures for ever'. 
Let those who fear the Lord say: 'His love endures for ever'.
The word "love" here has been translated directly from the Hebrew in the Grail translation used; the Latin of the Liturgia Horarium uses the word "misercordiae", that is, "mercy".  The English translation appears somewhat infelicitous in this Year of Mercy.

According to Pope John Paul II, in his commentary on this psalm given during his sequence of General Audience addresses on the psalms of morning and evening prayer (texts available from the CTS here):
The word "mercy" translates the Hebrew word hesed, that designates the generous fidelity of God towards the covenanted and friendly people. Three categories of people are told to praise this fidelity: all of Israel, the "house of Aaron", namely the priests, and those "who fear the Lord", a way of speaking that includes the faithful and the proselytes, namely the members of other nations who desire to follow the law of the Lord.
Pope Benedict XVI, when he refers to Psalm 135 as he completed Pope John Paul II's sequence of audiences, with its refrain (in the English translation of the psalter) "..for his love endures for ever", makes a similar observation with regard to the origin of that refrain in a translation from the original Hebrew word, hesed.

This is helpful here in Brentwood Diocese because, as we enter the Holy Door at our Cathedral, it is precisely this refrain - with the translation as "mercy" rather than "love" - that is encountered.

If we return to Psalm 117, Pope John Paul II describes it as reflecting a processional rite, through the city to the Temple. This can reflect our Holy Year pilgrimage to enter through the Holy Door. He also points out the reach of this "mercy" - beyond the people of Israel to those of other nations. We can recognise in this something of Pope Francis' wish to reach out to the "peripheries" in this Year of Mercy.

I do think Brentwood Cathedral has been particularly blessed in the Holy Door at its Cathedral.

No comments: