His Mercies Never Come To An End 

In the year 587BC devastation fell upon Judah.  Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar II invaded, plundered and laid waste the city of Jerusalem, including its holiest site, the Temple of Solomon.  Temple treasures were confiscated and the Ark of the Covenant was seized.  Many of the Jews were deported to Babylon, held there in captivity for 70 years.  Not all were forced to leave their homeland, but those left behind also suffered – daily facing Jerusalem and their temple lying in ruins.  

It is difficult to imagine their sense of devastation, pain, and the feeling as though they had been abandoned by God.  Very likely some – perhaps many, desired a swift, sweeping revenge.  Others must have recognized that the prophecies of their “weeping prophet” Jeremiah, and his call to repentance had long been ignored, prompting this providential event.

Some, perhaps priests, who were left behind in Jerusalem periodically gathered remnants of the people for prayer, holding penitential liturgies at sacred locations amid the ruins of the temple.  The Old Testament book of Lamentations includes some of these prayers and psalms (laments) that were likely recited and prayed.  These laments express confession of sin, grief over the devastation of Jerusalem, and yet, despite the gravity of their losses, hope – yes, hope in God’s great mercy.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

The Hebrew word for “mercy” is hesed.  This word has a very rich, deep meaning that cannot be adequately translated by any one English word.  “Hesed” encompasses the fullness of God’s nature, character and redemptive plan – all in one word!  It is variously translated: lovingkindness, devotion, mercy, strength, grace, purity, loyalty, tenderness, and steadfastness

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.  Between the years 1931 and 1938, Jesus revealed to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska the urgency of knowing his mercy because of the “awful day” – his day of justice was drawing nearer, and he wanted the whole world to know.  In her diary St. Faustina wrote:  

My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy.  I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners.  On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open.  I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.  (Diary 699)

Indeed, his mercies have not ended!  God extends his mercy to us, to our nation – to all of those who will accept it.  Further, in St. Faustina’s Diary she records that Jesus requires that, out of love for God, we also demonstrate his mercy.

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy…I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for Me.  You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.  (Diary 742)

For those of you who are experiencing difficult times – illness, loss of a family member, financial stress, or whatever, know that God’s mercy is there for you – even if he seems far away.  Recall that even Jesus experienced a sense of abandonment, and in the depths of his suffering on the cross cried out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  

We can trust in God’s mercy, even when we are down, discouraged and inclined to despair.  And we are called to be instruments of God’s mercy to others.  

And, as our good friend Fr. Joe Krupp likes to say, “Let’s get at it!”

God bless,

+Deacon Dave