Psalm 145: Is All Right with the World?

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 5, 2020

 

From 2017: Today, in Mercy, we  ask God to bless our country and all its people – to give us the grace to live in justice, peace and mutuality; to give us the insight to elect decent leaders who will forge these values; to give us the courage to model these values among nations; to teach us to use our freedom humbly, responsibly and mercifully.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145, a hymn psalm which is the last numerically to mention David in its origin.

The psalm is one of equilibrium and gratitude where the one praying is at peace within God’s generous fidelity.  By observing nature’s magnificent permanence, the psalmist both praises God and assures himself that things will be alright in the world.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.


Reading the psalm today, I thought of Robert Browning’s famous verses from his poetic drama Pippa Passes:

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God's in his heaven—
All's right with the world!
— from Act I: Morning

The verse, though it has endured, was considered naïve when published, due to an undercurrent of civil unrest in England and the rest of Europe. Times were not as peachy as the poem pretended.


With only a superficial glance, one might tend to feel similarly about Psalm 145. Times were tough for the Israelites, as many of the Psalms make clear. These lamenting psalms often ask for deliverance, and all kinds of retribution on enemies.

Psalm 145, and some other hymns, do not. They convey a sense of contentment with the status quo. We might ask ourselves, “Did the same people compose both these kinds of songs? Did this literature, in fact, arise out of the same national experience?


I think these are perfect questions as we, in the United States, continue to celebrate Fourth of July weekend. As we pray for our country, and for the world of which we are part, contrapuntal feelings surely enter our prayer.

  • a deep love of country countered with as deep a concern for its civic health and morality
  • an appreciation for our foremothers and fathers balanced with an awareness of their failures and limitations
  • a pride in our history tinged with shame and regret for its sins
  • a desire to honor civil servants and leaders tested by a realistic concern about their values and agenda
  • a profound gratitude for our national blessings pained by the realization that not all Americans share equitably in them

As is often the case, praying the psalm offers some guidance for our questions. Our third verse in today’s responsorial selection recognizes where God’s faithful generosity wants to be focused. Despite any personal equanimity, there are those who are falling. There are among us those who are bowed down:

The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.

A nation – an earthly community – which sees and attends to those who are so burdened will be blessed by God with the same justice and balance that renders “all right in the heavens”.

Music: The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee – Syracuse University Singers

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