In announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis drew our attention to Psalm 136, where the phrase “His mercy endures forever” is repeated no fewer than 26 times. In fact, this refrain appears in the Bible 41 times.
Why is this thought so ubiquitous in both Old and New Testaments?
Pope Francis explains: “To repeat continually ‘for his mercy endures forever’ seems to break through the dimensions of space and time, inserting everything into the eternal mystery of love. It is as if to say that not only in history, but for all eternity man will always be under the merciful gaze of the Father.”
In a 2011 General Audience, Pope Emeritus Benedict said this about Psalm 136: "Known as the Great Hallel, this psalm is a great hymn of praise. It was traditionally sung at the conclusion of the Passover meal. As such it was probably sung by Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper.”
And when Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper, He symbolically placed this supreme act in the light of His mercy.
Within the very same context of mercy, Jesus entered upon His passion and death, conscious of the great mystery of love that he would consummate on the cross.
Knowing that Jesus himself prayed this psalm makes it even more important for us to take up the refrain in our daily lives by praying these words of praise: “for his mercy endures forever.”
Our prayer today: I thank you every day, Lord, for Your enduring mercy. It is only because of Your mercy that I am saved.
(“Christ Going to the Mount of Olives at Night" by French Impressionist painter and illustrator James J. Tissot)