"Then who can be saved?"
This year, we have been using the word mercy many times and in many contexts. It is only right to do so in this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. At the same time, we would do well to remember the limits of language. In the philosophical sense all language that speaks of God must be analogical. After all, we human beings cannot comprehend the fullness of God. We can speak about God - and we do so with the help of simile and metaphor.
Then there is the further problem of translation. If the original Hebrew and Greek words are already analogical, we must then translate their assertions from the original into our own language. Here too, we face the limits of language. When translating, we frequently loose allusions, nuance, and multiple layers of meaning.
My point in all of this is simply to say that in this year of mercy, we might want to think about the related biblical vocabulary - especially if we want to respect the wideness of divine mercy and the limits of human explanations and translations!
If we really want to speak about divine mercy in the scriptures then we might want to think about terms like faithfulness, forgiveness, compassion, and love -especially love! The term most frequently used in Luke's Greek text is as much about comparison as love. God is not ruling on high like a human potentate and deigning to show mercy - the scriptures teach that divine mercy is founded upon divine love. When the Church prays "Lord have mercy" it is really saying, "Lord love us, forgive us, save us!" Even when expressing the deepest longing of the human heart, one word may not be enough.
In the Gospel of Luke (18:26), Jesus's listeners wonder aloud who may possibly be saved. Their dismay follows on the Lord's very difficult teaching concerning the dangers of material wealth. The Lord's response is to remind them that even the impossible comes to pass by the power of God. It appears that they were not listening closely enough to Jesus Who had already offered them parables and teachings about the faithful love of God for His people.
This year of mercy is about the impossible coming to pass. We human beings have proven, generation after generation, that we cannot save ourselves - from sin, from death, nor even from ourselves. The Good News is that this Gracious God, full of mercy and compassion, has given us the gift of His Son. "Who can be saved?" is no longer a question uttered in consternation - it is a question that has been answered with the most joyous news possible.
This website is offered for the use of those who exercise the sacred task of preaching - and for any and all who look to Jesus of Nazareth for grace, mercy, and redemption. At its debut, it remains a work in progress. Please explore and return for updates. And may God bless you in His mercy!