Is God merciful to all who call upon Him?
Consider well, brethren, what good things God gives to sinners – and then learn what he gives to his servants. To those sinners who blaspheme him every day, he gives the sky and the earth, he gives springs, fruit, health, children, wealth, bounty…
from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger
The soul which draws near to God recognizes its unworthiness to draw hither.
Firstly, on the account of her createdness, the disparity between her lowness and the heights of El Elyon Dio Altissimo causes her to pull back and abase herself. Overwhelmed by His majesty, she cries out Mercy!, for she is blinded by the sight of Him, and feels as if she would evaporate as so much breath on a mirror from the slightest touch of heat from the enflamed Heart of Divine Charity. The soul desires greatly to be with Him and yet is undone by Him, and so she finds herself in greater need of His largess, not simply for her being but for her continuation in His presence.
Secondly, the soul knows all the more clearly, in the light of His divine purity and simplicity, the degree of her uncleanliness and how she has fallen short of the glory of the Lord through her sins, both as one born in sin and who has committed personal sins of her own. Herein is shame, and this shame would drive her to flee from Him into howling places to await the rod of His justice so merited by her crimes if it were not for hope.
Will God be merciful to those who call upon Him? More importantly, Will God be merciful to me, should I call upon Him? The soul knows by reason that God is just, but by the report of faith, she knows He is a merciful God. From faith, comes the gift of hope that God’s mercies might be applied to sinners and, more specifically, oneself. The soul finding herself in need, from her creativeness, and want, from her sinfulness, finds that He, and He alone, has that which she needs, but is not owed. She finds the courage to approach the throne of God as a beggar not from her own audacity, but from His own promises that if one should come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.
Is there a reason for this hope in obtaining the mercy of God, not just some vain leap in the dark? Yes. When we look out upon God’s good green earth, we notice that the sinner suffers justice for his sins, but not wholly. He still receives some of God’s good things. The rains fall upon him, the earth, though grudgingly, gives up her fruit to him, he commands, finds some happiness, and he begets children. Justice would demand that such things be taken from him, but they are not. This is God’s mercy, which is abundant, for the sinner is not thus left alone, but is prodded by conscience and the law written upon the heart to harken to the report of faith, that those who should turn and believe, might obtain His mercy for the forgiveness of their sins.
Should we hope that all men be saved? No, this does not understand mercy. The mercy of salvation is conditioned on the turning of the soul to God to ask for mercy not just as a one-time turning but a perpetual turning to the Lord. The soul must always desire to obtain from God and never to turn from Him. God will always be merciful to those that turn to Him, for this He has sworn by Himself, for even if we believe not, He continues to be faithful for He can not deny Himself. Even as it is mercy that causes the rains to fall upon the sinner and mercy that causes the turn of the sinner, mercy does not force the sinner to turn nor to remain perpetually turned. If a soul who turned should turn away again, God will, during this time of trial, still be merciful and will raise the sinner up if the sinner should will to turn again. God will permit the sinner to remain fallen in the mire, even as He, in His mercy, allows the soft rains to fall upon his head.
In this, we see that God is merciful to all and that there is hope for those who call upon His Name.