Monday, March 24, 2008

the chesed of God

This week's meditation from The Merton Institution.
The chesed of God is a gratuitous mercy that considers no fitness, no worthiness and no return. It is the way the Lord looks upon the guilty and with His look makes them at once innocent. This look seems to some to be anger because they fly from it. But if they face it, they see that it is love and that they are innocent. (Their flight and their confusion of their own fear make them guilty in their own eyes.) The chesed of God is truth. It is infallible strength. It is the love by which He seeks and chooses His chosen, and binds them to Himself. It is the love by which He is married to mankind, so that, if humanity is faithless to Him, it must still always have fidelity to which to return: that is His own fidelity. He has become inseparable from man in the chesed which we call "Incarnation," and "Cross" and "Resurrection." He has also given us is chesed in the Person of His Spirit. The Paraclete is the full, inexpressible mystery of chesed. So that in the depths of our own being there is an inexhaustible spring of mercy and love. Our own being has become love. Our own self has become God's love for us, and it is full of Christ, of chesed. But we must face and accept ourselves and others as chesed.

Thomas Merton. Seasons of Celebration. (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950): 178-179.

I am fascinated with the concept of "chesed" - an act parallel to Creation, from nothing, and that is the beginning of any relationship of God to man.


  1. I had to read that excerpt from Merton on chesed a couple of times. It hit me this last time as incredibly profound and beautiful. Thank you for sharing that with us, Beth.

  2. I had not read it before, Barbara. I ended up researching a bit the Jewish meanings, and was drawn into the incredible insight the Jews had for the unique relationship between God and humanity.



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