Because the whole world before you is like a speck that tips the scales,
and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground.
But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things,
and you overlook men’s sins, that they may repent.
For you love all things that exist,
and you loathe none of the things which you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord who love the living.*
For your immortal spirit is in all things.
Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass,
and remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin,
that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord. (Wis 11:22–12:2).
“God,” says George MacDonald, “is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”
The sacred author is chewing over Israel’s conquest of Canaan and looking at the Big Picture of what God is up to in his dealing with all the rest of the human race. He is pondering the fact that since everything exists entirely on God’s sufferance and would disappear should God ever stop willing it to be, even God’s enemies exist and are only capable of the will to rebel against him because God, in his mysterious generosity, grants them the power to fight him if it really means that much to them.
It’s one of the deepest mysteries in the world: that God’s love for his creatures is the ground of their existence and that his desire for their good goes on to the bitter end, even if they–like Satan–chuck overboard everything they can (sanity, goodness, generosity) in the insane desire to escape him. Ultimately, they can’t be rid of him completely. Even Satan is still stuck with accepting the gifts of existence, will, and power from Him, though he has irrevocably chosen to assert his nothingness and turn it all toward war against God and creation (especially us).
And in that time, we have what Hopkins calls “the millions of rounds of thy mercy” as God bombards us with 7 x 70 chances to repent. Instead of demanding seven Herculean feats in repentance for our repeated failures, he keeps coming back with new grace and “little by little” helps us down the road toward him.
As somebody who has failed too many times to count, it’s kind of dizzying that he stays with me and doesn’t give up and all I have is a sort of incoherent gratitude.
And the only thing he asks me is that I have the same mercy on those who fail me.
So, to be clear: I want to extend mercy to any and all within the sound of my voice for any wrongs done me and to ask for mercy for wrongs I have done you. Tomorrow is the Feast of All Saints. Seems like a good time for us all to pray for each other that we make it to Heaven.