Speak Lord: from your compassion, speak mercy.

Quarry carving, Aix 2014

Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm, that for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, has us ask the Lord to remember his mercy.

  • In what spirit do we do this?
  • Why do we ask? What do we expect?

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

In you I hope all day long
because of your goodness, O Lord.
Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth.
In your love remember me.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Psalm 24:4-9

An impoverished understanding of mercy might be ‘not to punish’. But the blblical concept is much richer. It is a positive virtue, expressed in a typical way in the third verse of the psalm above. Mercy is an active work, restoring what has been lost – the path to those who stray; realism and truth to the proud; community and trust, hope, to the poor.

Mercy is the action that flows from compassion.

Our God is not over and above us as Judge, ready and wanting to send us to the cells. He is with us – in our loss, our confusion, and our hurt (as well as in the joys and good things that may come our way!). He loves us, is with us, and acts for us. He longs for our cooperation, and ‘mercy’ is one way he seeks to win our hearts and minds to such cooperation.

Carving by David Campbell at Carrières de Bibémus, Aix en Provence. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2014.