As for my God, may his mercy go before me. 

Imagine driving down a crowded street with only the use of your rearview mirrors.   The idea is laughable—and more than a bit dangerous.   It just doesn’t make sense to drive while looking backward.

This isn’t a bad image for our spiritual lives.   Most of the time, we need to be looking forward, not backward.   Sure, we need to glance back to check for blind spots or to assess our progress—like when we review our day or learn from past mistakes.   But overall, we need to be looking forward if we want to move forward.   The Responsorial Psalm talks about God’s mercy going before us.

You might think of mercy as a gift that deals with your past.   And it is. Mercy reaches back to cover your sins.   But the Hebrew word for mercy (hesed) here can also mean “God’s grace and favor,” his loving kindness toward us that never fails.   This broad, expansive definition tells us to do more than just seek God’s mercy for our past sins and failings.   It urges us to entrust our future to his provision as well.

In Scripture, Jeremiah is focused on the past.   He laments the day he was born, and he recalls how he “sat alone” under the weight of God’s hand.   It wasn’t easy being a prophet, and Jeremiah struggled bringing God’s words of warning to his people.   But as he poured out his heart, God broke in and gave him a vision for his future: “I will free you from the hand of the wicked,” he promised.   Comforted in the knowledge that his future was covered by God’s merciful love, Jeremiah continued on.

God wants to do so much more than forgive our sins.   He wants to give us his guidance, his comfort, and his protection.   So press forward, confident that God’s mercy and grace will go ahead of you.   It’s the difference between driving with just mirrors and driving with a large clear windshield.

word among us