Readings for Saturday, July 16/ Our Lady of Mt. Carmel:
Psalm 136:1, 10-15, 23-24
For His mercy endures forever.
When I was in my first year of seminary, I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this psalm when we would recite it in our communal prayer. Not because I doubted God's mercy, just because it was so repetitive that I got bored with it. God did such and such in a lofty voice and then... droning ... for his mercy endures forever. And it seemed almost to me like it was interrupting the psalm. But as I look at it now I understand really that the people were trying to drive home the point of just how much God's mercy is truly with us and that it endures forever. Everything that is spoken in the psalm, from the creation of the world to the protection of the Israelites from pharaoh, was done 'for His mercy endures forever.' It is out of God's mercy and love for us that all things really are able to work and continue. And as we pray with this psalm again today the Lord invites us to see that mercy.
In the person of Mary, whom we honor today under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, God's mercy was shown to us because we have a mother and a model of virtue to follow after, as well as a saint of incredible intercessory power. God has made Our Lady not only the mother of Christ but also the mother of us all; for His mercy endures forever.
He allows us to come here today before His altar to receive this sacred gift of the Eucharist; for His love endures forever. He sees us in our sinfulness and draws us closer to Himself; for His love endures forever. In fact, God's love and mercy is so strong and enduring that - as St. Jean Vianney once said - in the sacrament of reconciliation God forces Himself to forget our future sins so that He can forgive us. He knows we will sin again and yet so great is His mercy that it forgets that later time so as to pour His mercy now.
And as we listen to the words of Matthew citing the prophet Isaiah, we also hear of that enduring mercy: "a bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench." So great is God's mercy that seeing even the smallest bit of good in us, He allows us to continue to live and works to draw us deeper into Himself. How blessed are we to know the mercy of God in our own lives; and may God grant that we might come to know it ever more deeply.