"My God, my mercy"

For you have become my protector and my refuge on the day of my trouble. O my helper, I will sing to you because you, God, are my protector (Ps 58(59) 17-18). What would I have been had you not come to my aid? How hopeless would I have been if you did not heal me! Where would I now be lying unless you had come to meet me? I was in danger from a massive wound, a wound that required an almighty doctor, a doctor for whom nothing is incurable, who never refuses anyone. You have only to desire to be healed and not refuse his touch. But even if you refuse to be healed, your wound will urge you to be cured; he calls you back when you are unwilling, and when you flee him, somehow he allures you and makes you come back to him. In all these ways he fulfils what was said: His mercy will go before me (Ps 58[59]: 10).
Reflect on this: His mercy will go before me. If you brought something of your own first, and by some good deed of yours first earned Gods mercy, then his mercy did not go before you. But how can you think that you went first if you understand what the Apostle said: What do you have that you did not receive? But if you received it, why are you boasting as if you had not received it? (1 Cor 4:7). This is what it means that His mercy will go before me. Considering, finally, all the goods whatever that we could possess--whether in nature or in society or in conversion, in faith, in hope, in love, or in moral behavior, in righteousness, in fear of the Lordnone of it exists except by Gods gift, and so the Psalmist ends: My God, my mercy (Ps 58[59]: 18). Filled with Gods good things, he finds no other name for God than my mercy. O name because of which no one need despair! My God, he says, my mercy.
What does my mercy mean? If you say, My salvation, I understand that he gives you salvation. If you say, My refuge, I understand that you are fleeing to him. If you say, My strength, I understand that he gives you strength. But what does My mercy mean? It means: everything that I am is from your mercy.... That I might exist, what did I do? That I might be one who could call upon you, what did I do? If I did something that I might exist, then I was before I existed. But if I was utterly nothing before I existed, I did nothing to deserve to exist. You brought it about that I exist, and was it not you that brought it about that I am good? You gave me to exist, and could someone else give it that I am good? The one who gave me to be good is better than the one who gave me to exist. But, of course, no one is better than you, no one mightier than you, no one more generous in mercy than you. The one from whom I received my existence is the one from whom I received the gift of being good. My God, my mercy. (Augustine, EnPs 58(59), 9, 11; PL 36, 712-13)

For you have become my protector and my refuge on the day of my trouble. O my helper, I will sing to you because you, God, are my protector (Ps 58[59] 17-18). What would I have been had you not come to my aid? How hopeless would I have been if you did not heal me! Where would I now be lying unless you had come to meet me? I was in danger from a massive wound, a wound that required an almighty doctor, a doctor for whom nothing is incurable, who never refuses anyone. You have only to desire to be healed and not refuse his touch. But even if you refuse to be healed, your wound will urge you to be cured; he calls you back when you are unwilling, and when you flee him, somehow he allures you and makes you come back to him. In all these ways he fulfils what was said: His mercy will go before me (Ps 58[59]: 10).

Reflect on this: His mercy will go before me. If you brought something of your own first, and by some good deed of yours first earned Gods mercy, then his mercy did not go before you. But how can you think that you went first if you understand what the Apostle said: What do you have that you did not receive? But if you received it, why are you boasting as if you had not received it? (1 Cor 4:7). This is what it means that His mercy will go before me. Considering, finally, all the goods whatever that we could possess--whether in nature or in society or in conversion, in faith, in hope, in love, or in moral behavior, in righteousness, in fear of the Lordnone of it exists except by Gods gift, and so the Psalmist ends: My God, my mercy (Ps 58[59]: 18). Filled with Gods good things, he finds no other name for God than my mercy. O name because of which no one need despair! My God, he says, my mercy. What does my mercy mean? If you say, My salvation, I understand that he gives you salvation. If you say, My refuge, I understand that you are fleeing to him. If you say, My strength, I understand that he gives you strength. But what does My mercy mean? It means: everything that I am is from your mercy.... That I might exist, what did I do? That I might be one who could call upon you, what did I do? If I did something that I might exist, then I was before I existed. But if I was utterly nothing before I existed, I did nothing to deserve to exist. You brought it about that I exist, and was it not you that brought it about that I am good? You gave me to exist, and could someone else give it that I am good? The one who gave me to be good is better than the one who gave me to exist. But, of course, no one is better than you, no one mightier than you, no one more generous in mercy than you. The one from whom I received my existence is the one from whom I received the gift of being good. My God, my mercy. (Augustine, EnPs 58[59], 9, 11; PL 36, 712-13)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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