A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

His mercy endures forever

The great Pope John Paul the second, servant of God, designated today, the Sunday after Easter, as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Some of today’s readings continue the recounting of the great events following Easter: in the Gospel (John 20:19-31), the appearance to Saint Thomas the Apostle one week after the resurrection; and in the first reading (Acts 2:42-47), the wonders of the apostolic community in the months following the resurrection.

But the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, together with the second reading (1 Peter 1:3-9) and the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24), focus on the great motivation and result of Christ’s resurrection.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy
gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

As for the Psalm, it begins with a repetition of that wonderful phrase: for his mercy endures forever.

Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

The repetition of this phrase occurs elsewhere in Scripture, most especially in Psalm 136, which recounts God’s works from creation to Israel’s arrival in the Promised Land, repeating “for his mercy endures forever” literally every other phrase.

Praise the Lord, for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Praise ye the God of gods:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Praise ye the Lord of lords:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Who alone doth great wonders:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Who made the heavens in understanding:
for his mercy endureth for ever.

At one point, however, this litany takes a sudden turn that may be disturbing to many ears.

Who smote great kings:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
And slew strong kings:
for his mercy endureth for ever.

We may believe we have a pretty good idea of the qualities of mercy and many of us would not include regicide among them.

The word translated in these Psalms as mercy is the great Hebrew word Hesed, which is also translated as loving-kindness.

So, did God have no loving-kindness or mercy to these kings?

Obviously, the death of these kings was a work of mercy on behalf of the children of Israel, for these kings were a threat to them. Thus these events were yet another example of how the mercy of God has been with his people throughout the ages.

But of course, the children of Israel have not enjoyed God’s mercy at every moment. Indeed, just this past century, their descendents were imprisoned and massacred by the millions by Nazis and others.

What happened to the mercy of God?

The way to an answer, for both of these questions, lies in this very same phrase: for his mercy endures forever.

The mercy of God is not just for a moment or for a day or even for a lifetime. The mercy of God endures forever. Even when his mercy may seem for a moment (or even for a lifetime) to have vanished from the earth or we might even think people are receiving God’s wrath instead of his mercy, we need to remember that his mercy endures forever: God’s mercy will indeed shine forth in time and in eternity and it will endure forever.

In the meantime, may you and I do the best we can to manifest the perfect mercy of God, exemplified in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, here and now: in our words, in our attitudes, in our actions, and in our faithfulness.

Give thanks to the Lord,
For he is good,
For his mercy endures forever.