The tender mercy of God (Lk 1:78-1:78)

“By the tender mercy

Of our God,

The dawn

From on high

Will break

Upon us.”

 

διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους,

 

Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an insistence on the mercy of their God.  Zechariah said that by the heart felt tender mercy and compassion of their God (διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν), a new day or a sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high (ἐξ ὕψους) would break out upon them or visit them (ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς).  As many of the prophets had pointed out already. the messiah or savior would come like a sunrise to break into their lives.  So too, John, his son, would be part of this process that would culminate in Jesus.

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Nine in the morning (Mk 15:25-15:25)

“It was nine o’clock

In the morning,

The third hour,

When they crucified him.”

 

ἦν δὲ ὥρα τρίτη καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν.

 

Mark was the only one of the gospel writers to mention that the crucifixion of Jesus (καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν) took place at 9:00 AM, the 3rd hour of the day (ἦν δὲ ὥρα τρίτη) after sunrise.

Yahweh and the sun (Ps 19:4-19:6)

“In the heavens,

He has set a tent for the sun.

The sun comes out

Like a bridegroom

From his wedding canopy.

The sun is like a strong man

Who runs his course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens.

Its circuit is to the end of them.

There is nothing hid from its heat.”

This is almost a hymn to the sun. However, Yahweh is in control of the sun. Clearly this sun is revolving around the earth. The sun comes out like a bridegroom from a wedding canopy. What a description of a sunrise! The sun is like a strong man who cannot be deterred from his course that he runs with joy. The sun rises at one end and does a circuit to the other end of heaven or the sky. Nothing can hide from the heat of the sun.

The hymn to the divine power over the climate (Job 36:24-36:37)

“Remember to extol his work!

Men have sung to his work.

All people have looked on it.

Everyone watches it from far away.

Surely God is great!

We do not know him.

The number of his years is unsearchable.

He draws up the drops of water.

He distils his mist in rain.

The skies pour down rain.

Rain drops upon mortals abundantly.

Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds?

Can anyone understand the thundering of his pavilion?

See!

He scatters his lightning around him.

He covers the roots of the sea.

For by these he judges peoples.

He gives food in abundance.

He covers his hands with the lightning.

He commands it to strike the mark.

Its crashing tells about him.

He is jealous with anger against iniquity.”

Elihu wanted Job to understand and extol the power of God over the climate we live in. Interesting enough I began working on this the day that Pope Francis I issued his encyclical on the climate “Laudato Si.” Yet here, Elihu in his hymn clearly sees God as the controller of the climate. God controls the rain, so that quite often we pray to God for more or less rain. This is especially true in strong farming communities. They also pray for good harvests from the land. We have seen both drought and over flooding this year in the USA. God has control over thunder and lightning as well as the seas.   God is jealous and angry against the wicked. Perhaps we do not pray to God enough about the climate. Just as we have moved from the poetic flat world concept of sunrise and sunset to the earth moving around the sun, so too we might see climate as not the poetic unique concern of God alone, but see the impact of human actions on the climate also.