[Christ’s secrets] are so well concealed that however numerous are the mysteries and marvels which holy doctors have discovered and saintly souls understood in this earthly life, all the more is yet to be said and understood. There is much to fathom in Christ, for He is like an abundant mine with many recesses of treasures, so that however deep men go they never reach the end or bottom, but rather in every recess find new veins with new riches everywhere. “In Christ dwell hidden all treasures and wisdom”
— Col.2:3 (John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 37,4).
Get ready for a “cordial” reading of the divine Word that uncovers the impulse of life awaiting us within the text involving a happy meeting of intelligence, will, and emotions, “where all the pulsations and fibres of a human life coalesce”. We put ourselves in a position of being illumined by the radiance of the text. This is how the Fathers read Scripture, as if the Word of God intends to strike one’s heart and evoke a response “aimed at striking the Heart of God.” We need to eat the scroll and let it be digested. Let it work its influence on our hearts. This style of interiorizing the Gospel and therefore the presentation of Jesus as he was received by others our author delivers to us by allowing us to experience it.
— (Vol. I, Intro. P. 24)
Leiva-Merikakis believes the Greek text is the only inspired text and so is uniquely sacred; Greek is the language of mythology, tragedy, and philosophy holding its own beauty and precision. And so he often dwells on a Greek word, unpacking it, relating it to other uses elsewhere in the Gospels, and otherwise bringing it alive. “In the Bible, as in all authentic poetry, the words themselves not only refer to the realities they signify but, like sacraments, themselves possess a reality of their own. This accounts for the element of surprise…God is continually uttering the ineffable in Scripture. The weight of this ineffable utterance threatens to crack open the vessels that contain it.”
Our hearts want to enter the mystery, to savour its substance and recognize the sweetness of God. John of the Cross says all other joys and tastes may be renounced but the knowledge and the unending enjoyment of the Beloved:
There he gave me his breast,
there he taught me a knowledge
with most delightful taste,
and in return I gave him myself,
there I promised him to be his bride.
— (SC, 26-27)
Finally, our mystical author tells us:
God’s poetic logic…speaks to us, not in propositions and syllogisms, but in stern commands, in images, signs, gestures, whisperings of love, by both his manifest presence and his tangible absence, by both his words and his dramatic silences, always upsetting, overturning the ordinary meaning of words and things.
— (p. 44)
Our author helps us touch God viscerally, as well as intellectually and spiritually. Our spiritual senses are real and long to be activated. He shows us that being with Jesus is revealed in the Gospel as the absolutely highest form of having existence, of living our being by participating in his I AM.
These three volumes are a lifetime investment. Each volume covers about ten chapters, and still we do not reach the end, though we do cover the passion and resurrection indirectly. For the two years I have had access to them I cannot be without one for very long. Ultimately I am learning how to interpret the words, episodes, and phrases of Scripture mystically, but I will never have all the tools given here by Erasmo, who has a background in linguistics and literature, besides mysticism. He became a Trappist monk after the death of his wife and raising a big family.
— Reviewed by Sr. Patricia McGowan
Fire of Mercy; Heart of the Word. Meditations On The Gospel According To St. Matthew by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis