Light on the Rue du Bac

Rue du Bac Paris

Extend mercy toward others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His mercy from us?

So spake St. Vincent de Paul, who died 353 years ago today.

The great saint’s heart rests in a reliquary in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity on the Rue du Bac in Paris. I had a chance to visit the chapel once. I can say it is one of the more luminous places in the world. The chapel itself shines with a stunning amount of natural light. Somehow it seems brighter inside the little church than outside on the street. And of course the supernatural light of the place shines brilliantly. It’s the same place where our Lady appeared and gave us the Miraculous Medal.

mary-mOur Lord Jesus said He would rise again on the third day, and He did. In the luminous pre-dawn of Sunday morning.

In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope-Emeritus Benedict makes an interesting point about the New-Testament records of the Risen Christ. Skeptics dismiss the accounts on the grounds that they seem scattershot and confused. Who saw Him first? In Jerusalem, or Emmaus, or Galilee? What did He look like? How come no one recognized Him at first?

Good questions. The accounts are indeed jumbled, enormously zig-zaggy–as if it all happened under strobe lighting.

Pope Benedict makes this excellent point: If someone made it all up—if the resurrection of Christ were a fiction—then the accounts would be more coherent and easier to grasp. No one would make up the jumble we have. The fact that the picture of the Risen Jesus which we get from the New Testament—the fact that this picture is so genuinely blinding to our mind’s eyes: that gives these accounts a much stronger ring of truth.

He rose on the third day. It’s real. And it means that the hearts of all the saints will beat again—will beat again with pure, merciful love—they will beat forever: This is real. When all the tvs have stopped blinking, and the computer screens and smart phones—when the great noise of this world has gone silent, the hearts of the saints will beat, undying light will shine, and what is obscure now will be perfectly clear.

So, in the meantime, let’s be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.


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