Fr. Roger Landry: God’s Enduring Mercy, the ‘Great Hallel’ and Coronavirus

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God wants us to turn to him with trust in his mercy.

By Fr. Roger Landry, National Catholic Register, 4/15/20

One of the most powerful Psalms to pray when we might be feeling abandoned by God is the “Great Hallel,” so called because it is an extraordinary hymn of praise for all God has done repeatedly to care for and rescue his people in need.

Psalm 136 is a 26-verse litany most remembered for the refrain after each verse, “for his mercy endures forever.” It praises God for his steadfast love shown in creation, in rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, leading them through the Red Sea and the desert, defeating the powerful kings who opposed them, giving them the land as their inheritance, remembering them whenever they were in their misery, and never ceasing to feed them.

It is normally sung by Jews at the end of the Passover Seder, at the morning service of the Sabbath, and frequently on festivals. It summarizes the Old Testament history of salvation, praising God for his faithfulness and goodness in regularly intervening to save his people.

Jesus and the apostles very likely sang it at the end of the Last Supper before they went out to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26) after the Last Supper. The references to God’s merciful love during the Passover and exodus put into relief how the God-man was then bringing to fulfillment what all of his previous interventions foreshadowed: the definitive redemption of God’s people from sin and death in the new and eternal Passover.  ….

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