In today’s introit, the mercy of God is extolled. “We have received Thy mercy in the midst of Thy temple”. What is the temple of God if not the Church? It is in and through the Church and her sacraments that mercy is shown to the world and to each soul in particular.
But the Sacred text goes on to say: “Thy right hand is full of justice”, giving us to understand that God’s mercy makes us just and holy. It is all the working of grace. But that working demands our cooperation, that is to say, our acquiescence to it, our taking steps towards God. And when his grace has been received, it makes us just, really and truly, and not just in appearance. We are truly God’s children by adoption, we are part of his family.
Only the poor and humble can experience it. “Thou dost save the humble people, and thou dost humble the eyes of the proud”. And when the poor have been saved, they sing God’s praises, to the ends of the earth. There is no limit to it. God’s salvation is not for just a particular people, but for all. Everyone is called to enter the Church and to receive that grace.
Interestingly, the verse “Suscepimus” (we have received thy mercy O God) is prescribed by St Benedict at the time of the reception of guests. He considers the arrival of guests to the monastery as a special token of God’s merciful watchfulness over the community, for it gives the monks the opportunity to practice the word of Our Lord: “As often as you did it to one of these least brethren, you did it to me”.
This is the origin of the legendary Benedictine hospitality. The good monk always sees the mercy of God in the arrival of guests, especially when they are poor or when they are on a pilgrimage, for then it is that the monks can more readily give than receive.
In our world, most of the people who come to monasteries come there to receive spiritual support. From that perspective, they are all poor and they are all pilgrims.
May the sons of St Benedict today always have the faith to see Christ in guests and the love to serve their spiritual needs with all due diligence.