THE Catholic Leader (Have Your Say, 9/12/2012) contained yet another expression of the ongoing conversation about the merits of celebrating the Mass in the vernacular or in Latin.
The old philosophical adage of thesis and antithesis means that the answer should lay with a synthesis.
However the recent Gospel of Jesus healing the blind man suggests to me that the greatest prayer of the Mass is certainly the Kyrie Eleison, a prayer expressed in Greek.
The Bible frequently translates relatives of the word “eleison” as “pity, mercy, compassion”.
However Jacques Guillet explains the derivatives of “eleison”, in translating the Hebrew word “hesed”, fail to carry forward the essential idea behind “hesed” as an expression of a deep bond and commitment.
The word is more than a feeling of pity, compassion or mercy. The word came to connote the Covenant itself.
One author suggested that the word should be translated by “loyalty”.
Hence the blind man’s call is not a request for mere pity but actually expresses deep faith in Jesus’ identity as coming from God.
That is why the miracle story concludes with Jesus’ affirmation to the man that his faith has saved him.
Jesus healed because the man asked for Jesus to remain loyal to the Covenant despite his blindness signalling that the man had not been loyal and was a sinner.
We must silently cry out like the blind man for Jesus to remain loyal to us, to His Covenant.
Every part of the Mass is saturated with our need to cry out continually for God to remain loyal despite our stumblings.
There are many good and bad reasons to preserve Latin and English as the language of our Mass prayers, but it is the Greek and the Hebrew that contains the key to unlocking what our participation means in faith this Christmas.