This refrain from today’s Responsorial Psalm proclaims a fundamental truth about God; but in the context of the other readings in today’s Mass, it proclaims a fundamental truth about us. We human beings are to be kind and merciful to one another, even to an heroic extent. This is exemplified by David in the First Reading who has already been chosen by God and anointed by the Prophet Samuel to succeed Saul as King of Israel. Out of jealousy King Saul has been trying to kill David. David has the opportunity to kill King Saul when he sneaks into the camp while everyone is asleep. However out of respect for him David does not kill him, but takes his spear as a sign that he could have killed him. The next day he reveals to King Saul what happened and convinces him that he wishes him no harm. King Saul is convinced and ends his pursuit of David.
In the Gospel we hear the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Jesus commands his disciples—and us!—to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” In the end he sums it up in these words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
I see this as all tied together by Saint Paul in today’s Second Readingwhen he says that we who bear the image of the first man, Adam, and his sin, shall also bear the image of the second Adam, Christ, who revealed himself to Saint Faustina as the Divine Mercy. This brings to mind the words of the 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” It is in love of enemies and forgiveness of offenders that we are most Christianly human.
God’s kindness and mercy or compassion toward sinners praised in the Responsorial Psalm are aspects of love. In fact the Hebrew word for compassion, raḥǎmîm, comes from reḥem, the word for “womb.” It comes from deep within, it is visceral, gut-rending. It is rooted in the love a mother has for the child of her womb—an image used often in the scriptures to express the depth of God’s love and mercy. In this light I cannot help but mention how ungodly it is for a mother willfully to abort her child, for abortion to be portrayed simply as a woman’s right to choose. The victim in every abortion is not only the unborn child, but themother as well, whose most profound nature has been violated.
Pray the Rosary again this week for people who suffer from the cold of winter due to a lack of sufficient food, clothing and shelter; for all who are suffering with colds or flu; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.