Hot Potato Psalm

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

August 18, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a little more Deuteronomy. Coupled once again with Ezekiel’s excoriations and with the Gospel warnings, today’s Responsorial Psalm is a hot potato!

To tell you the truth, I’ve pretty much had enough of it, but I trust there’s a treasure buried in its hard words.

You will come to appreciate the full force & magnetic beauty of Deuteronomy only as you read its pages….Nothing in literature matches the majesty of its eloquence. Nothing in the Old Testament has any more powerful appeal for the spiritual life. No book in all the Word of God pictures better the life that is lived according to God’s will & the blessings showered upon the soul who comes into the richness & fullness of spiritual living along the rugged pathway of simple obedience…If you want a taste of heaven on earth, become familiar with Deuteronomy.

Henrietta Mears in her book “What the Bible Is All About” (over 3 million copies sold)

Taken together, today’s passages remind me that it is so easy to get full of ourselves and our comforts, ultimately forgetting our dependence on God.

Ezekiel gives this divine judgement to the people:

By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have made riches for yourself;
You have put gold and silver
into your treasuries.
By your great wisdom applied to your trading
you have heaped up your riches;
your heart has grown haughty from your riches–
therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Because you have thought yourself
to have the mind of a god,
Therefore I will bring against you
foreigners, the most barbarous of nations.

Deuteronomy 32 warns us:

You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you,
you forgot the God who gave you birth.
The LORD saw and was filled with loathing,
provoked by his sons and daughters.

And in our Gospel, Jesus gives us that classic zing which makes all of us wonder if we’re sleek enough to be saved:

Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God

I don’t think we need a road map to find the message in these readings. God wants to be our one, true God. The love of wealth, power, and self obscures that Truth. It can even fool us into thinking that we are like gods in control of our lives.

The corrective, as our Alleluia Verse indicates, is to imitate Jesus:

Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich
So that by his poverty you might become rich as he is.

Poetry: Salvation by Stephen Dunn

Finally, I gave up on obeisance,
and refused to welcome
either retribution or the tease
of sunny days. As for the can’t-be-
seen, the sum-of-all-details,
the One—oh, when it came
to salvation I was only sure
I needed to be spared
someone else’s version of it.
The small prayers I devised
had in them the hard sounds
of split and frost.
I wanted them to speak
as if it made sense to speak
to what isn’t there
in the beaconless dark.
I wanted them to startle
by how little they asked.

Music: My Own Little World – Matthew West

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