Mercy is mentioned two to four hundred plus times, depending upon which Bible is read. That’s quite an amazing number of instances; therefore we should attach much thought and contemplation to the frequency of God’s wonderful attribute – His Divine Mercy. Recall His words to Moses, (Ex 34:5-6, RSV): ‘And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the names of the lord. ‘The Lord, the Lord. A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and faithfulness…’ The prophet Joel restates this (2:13, RSV) for he says ‘…your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy’…Mercy and Grace are God’s Divine names.
St John the evangeliser writes in (1 Jn 4:8), ‘God is love’ and He created humankind to share in His Divine love and this love is eternal. God gave Adam and Eve many wonderful gifts but only one ‘Do not’. They were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – and if they did then death would be its consequence. It was Eve who was tempted by Satan and she ate the fruit of the forbidden tree and gave some to Adam too. The result was not immediate death, but banishment from the Garden of Eden, but they were not abandoned by God.
A very interesting line from Exodus 3:21 reads ‘And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them’. Now this raises further teasing questions. What animal was sacrificed to provide these skins? Could it possibly be a lamb – the first sacrificial lamb – to cloth their nakedness – one of the corporal works of mercy – God’s first act of mercy and compassion for His created beings. And his compassion did not end there. God, (like his Son), did not like waste, recall from the Gospels that Jesus, after feeding the multitudes asked His disciples to collect the scraps so these scraps could feed the hungry of others as well.
The slaughtered lamb would also provide food for the hungry couple, (feed the hungry). How would they cook the meat, surly God showed them how the make a fire to roast the meal on. The fire would also provide for light and warmth in the dark hours. He would show them how to build protection from the elements, (shelter the homeless). The rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden would provide water for drinking, (drink for the thirsty). Perhaps even the bones of the animal were used for implements or basic tools to work with.
In the above paragraphs four corporal works of mercy are mentioned and all provided by God. One could think of many other acts of mercy that God provided to the couple at this time – how to plant and how to reap – how to fully use what was available to them – showed them how to fish from the streams – and how to prepare these fish for cooking. Instructed them art of husbandry and of managing the land, and much much more. Sadly, Adam and Eve’s first corporal works of mercy would be to bury the dead, to bury their son Able after he was slaughtered by Cain.
Nevertheless our Father will not be outdone in His works of Divine Mercy and Love for mankind, for as the BVM says in her wonderful song of praise to God – His mercy is from age to age.
-Deacon Mike Browne, Alfreton and Clay Cross Parish