Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #3, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

cover of the ebook 'Meditations on the Psalms, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox'

Psalm 102

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all he hath done for thee. Who forgiveth all thy iniquities: who healeth all thy diseases. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction: who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion. Who satisfieth thy desire with good things: thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord doth mercies, and judgment for all that suffer wrong. He hath made his ways known to Moses: his wills to the children of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful: long-suffering and plenteous in mercy. He will not always be angry: nor will he threaten for ever. He hath not dealt with us according to our sins: nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For according to the height of the heaven above the earth: he hath strengthened his mercy towards them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him: For he knoweth our frame. He remembereth that we are dust: Man’s days are as grass, as the flower of the field so shall he flourish.

For the spirit shall pass in him, and he shall not be: and he shall know his place no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him: And his justice unto children’s children, To such as keep his covenant, And are mindful of his commandments to do them. The Lord hath prepared his throne in heaven: and his kingdom shall rule over all. Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his orders.

Bless the Lord, all ye his hosts: you ministers of his that do his will. Bless the Lord, all his works: in every place of his dominion, O my soul, bless thou the Lord.

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Universality of the Mercies of God

First Point. God’s mercy is all-sufficing. All that is within me, bless God’s name not merely my lips or even my affections, but my will, my intellect, my every action: he claims all, who gives all, and it is God who has done all for me. He forgives all my sins not merely all the debt inherited from my first parents, or all the sins of my youth, but the sins by which I still offend him every day. He heals all my diseases, all the way ward passions, all the inordinate affections, all the weakness in purpose and in prayer, of those who truly devote themselves to him. To have rescued me from eternal punishment, is not that to do all for me? And yet he does more; he crowns his gift with the promise of an eternal reward; and even on earth he adds to these favours spiritual delights, enabling by his grace that free activity of the soul which (like the exercise of man’s natural faculties) carries with it is own gratification.

Second Point. God’s mercy is all-embracing. God does not victimize this or that soul for the general good, does not act by rough and ready measures. He cares for all, and even when he allows wrong to triumph, he has a merciful purpose for its victims; just as he allowed the children of Israel to be persecuted by the Egyptians in order that they might acquire the racial spirit of independence which was necessary to the people destined to preserve his oracles. Even when he punishes our sins, the punishments (in this world) are not for all time, but only until we repent and amend and this although our sins, when they represent a deliberate turning away from him, of themselves deserve infinite punishment. Here is one of the mystical meanings of the Cross; the length of its stem represents the infinite condescension by which God bridged all the gulf between himself and man; the width of its arms represents the infinite distance between man sinful and man redeemed, all the difference between West and East, that is, between darkness and light. His love has none of the selfishness which the passion of human love often shews; his is the love of a Father, who has mercy on all his children, not one more than another; and, because he knows the special weaknesses and special temptations of all, makes allowances for all according to the frailty of their composition.

Third Point. God’s mercy is for all time. What is man? With his limited powers, his limited knowledge, his faculties which decline, might we not have thought that his being is limited to the brief time he enjoys on earth? But it is not so; in return for our imperfect adoration, our uncertain fidelity, our fitful recollectedness and firmness of purpose, God promises the continuance of his mercies for all eternity. For the God who thus engages our gratitude is all-powerful; in blessing him for his goodness, we unite ourselves with all the angels who carry out his decrees by the delegation of his own power, with all the blessed spirits that stand round his throne and serve him, with all the dumb creatures that, fulfilling his will in their several functions, contribute to the great chorus of his praise. And I, raised above the lesser creatures by the possession of an immortal soul, more bound in gratitude than the Angels, because not only created but redeemed by him – shall not I begin on earth the adoration which I am to pay in eternity?

Acts: Thanksgiving for God’s several mercies, especially for our Redemption; adoration of God’s Omnipotence.

Colloquy with God as my Father, who, though caring alike for all, cares for me individually.