Editor: This homily was delivered by Bp. Clarence ‘Larry’ Silva, D.D., Bp. of Honolulu on Sept. 3, 2012 at St. Theresa Church, Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii, in celebration of Twenty-Five Years of Ministry of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in Hawaii.
 
How dare she bring up humanity’s sinfulness! This Beautiful Lady of La Salette was in tears because of what human beings were tragically choosing to do. Her appearance hammered home to many the need to acknowledge sin and to repent. But her message and the fruit it bore also provided the tool for removing that sin and for reconciling people to one another and to God. 
 
As she wept on that day in 1846 when she appeared to those two children in France, perhaps she harkened back to that day outside Jerusalem when she wept bitterly for hours as she waited at the foot of the cross of her beloved Son, torn between her desire that he would live and her compassionate hope that the pains he endured would not be too prolonged. 


The Hammer and Pincers

Perhaps during those grueling hours she pondered deeply on those instruments that were used in her Son’s crucifixion, the tools the Roman soldiers had brought with them: the hammer that nailed him to the cross and sealed his commitment to give his life for us all; and the pincers that would mercifully remove those nails so that he could at last come down from his place of suffering and be laid in her arms. And perhaps it was just that contemplation that caused her to put those two seemingly opposed instruments on either side of the cross she wore as Our Lady of La Salette.
 
Most Rev. Clarence ‘Larry’ Silva, D.D., Bp. of
Honolulu, homilist for Anniversary Mass
We do not like to speak much of sin, because recognizing sin can diminish our self-esteem. It can make us feel guilty, and who needs to feel guilty? Yet any parent knows that to not correct a child, to not hammer home discipline, is to set the child on a path of self-destruction and destruction of others. 
 
Any teacher knows that it is no act of kindness to tell a student failing in a subject that everything is just fine, and to give that person a passing grade when everyone knows he has not grasped the lessons at all. Would an alcoholic benefit by not confronting her drinking problem, or a gossip be deterred if no one contradicted him? Sometimes the most merciful form of love is the hammer, driving home hard a lesson that must be learned for one’s own good, cracking open a hard head or a hard heart so that it can come to know the truth and be set free. 
 

The Rainbow, a Reminder of God’s Mercy

Exterior of St. Teresa Parish Church,
Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii
As we hear the beautiful story of God placing the rainbow in the heavens as a sign of his mercy (Gen.  9:1q2-15), we know that God only did so after he hammered the earth with his own tears of forty days and forty nights, calling it to repentance, to change, to trust in him. Even though only Noah and his family were spared their lives in the ark, perhaps God knew that his hammering the earth with rain for forty days and forty nights would finally break open the hardest hearts to call out to him for mercy, so that even as they drowned, he could pluck them out with his pincers of mercy.
 
But there was the rainbow, like the pincers that pulled out the bitterness of the punishment to reveal that it was all for the sake of shedding a glorious light upon us that God moved the waters as he did. The pincers that pulled out the nails that held the hands of Mary’s Son, were also instruments of mercy, removing from our hearts whatever holds us captive. 
 
When Mary wept at the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27), and again at La Salette, she showed this instrument of liberation, so that the one who had borne our sins could be set free to live forever. Oppression and misery are not God’s choice for us, and he wants to pull them away from us. 
 

A Witness to Reconciliation

Interior of St. Teresa Parish Church,
Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii
So here we see on Our Lady’s heart the cross with the hammer and the pincers. Our brothers whose presence in Hawaii we celebrate today bear the fruit of this message of Our Lady of La Salette, calling all to reconciliation. It is not a reconciliation without pain, because sin is very real, and the hammer is sometimes needed to crack it open. But God’s mercy is always there, too, so the pincers are to pull out the cause of all our suffering.
 
As Mary herself was entrusted to the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross, so she was entrusted to these beloved disciples of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, so that they can continue to proclaim the glory of the cross, with its hammer and pincers, its pain and its freedom. May they be blessed for all their wonderful dedication and continue to be the beloved disciples of Jesus who embrace his mother and her message of trust, and hope, and merciful love.
 
St. Teresa Parish Church, Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii
First Parochial Ministry of Ina ng Pag-asa Province
+ Fr. Jose Nacu, M.S., First La Salette Pastor
+ Fr. Alphonse Larochelle, M.S., First La Salette Parochial Vicar