Psalm 23: The Banquet

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 11, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 23, a familiar, comforting and beloved prayer.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

Psalm 23: 1-3

The psalm comes between readings that assure us of a waiting and sumptuous banquet to which we gain entrance by both mercy and grace.  

Isaiah describes the feast in the future tense:

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”

Isaiah 25: 9

But Paul reminds us of the truth we often forget. The banquet is NOW!

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:20

In our Gospel, Jesus invites his guests to that feast with both an immediacy and a demand. The celebration of abundance is open to all. But we must at least make the effort to don a wedding garment – that reverent, grateful attitude which gives glory to the Source of our abundance. 

The edge of the white choir mantle is visible below the veils.

In ancient times – when I first came to religious life 🙂 – we would add a special garment to our habit to celebrate a great feast. The white choir mantle was a symbol of our awareness of a particularly sacred moment.

Miraculously, it is that reverent awareness that opens our eyes to the plentitude in our midst. It releases us to the freedom of a hope already realized, but hidden from those whose hearts refuse to be dressed in grace.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5

Our readings invite us to live as not only invited and but saved people, completely convinced of God’s eternal welcome and protection.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:6

What would the world be like if we lived out this conviction? 

How might the reproaches fear, competition, domination, selfishness,
and hoarding be removed from our midst?

How might the rush of generosity, forgiveness, and mercy
flow out of our confident hearts to wash the earth in God’s restful waters?

Poem: Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Music: Abundant Life – written by Ruth Duck, sung by Marty Haugen

We cannot own the sunlit sky, 
the moon, the wild-flowers growing, 
For we are part of all that is 
within life’s river flowing.

With open hands receive and share 
the gifts of God’s creation, 
That all may have abundant life 
in every earthly nation.

When bodies shiver in the night 
and weary wait for morning,
When children have no bread but tears, 
and war horns sound their warning. 

God calls humanity to awake, 
to join in common labor,
That all may have abundant life, 
oneness with their neighbor.

God calls humanity to join as partners
in creating a future free
from want or fear.
Life’s goodness celebrating, 

that new world beckons from afar,
Invites our shared endeavor 
that all might have abundant life 
and peace endure forever.

5 thoughts on “Psalm 23: The Banquet

  1. John Butts

    You are an abundant and endless banquet of blessings which nourishes our bodies, minds and souls. You so freely continue to feed us with this special gift of understanding his words and combining them with your eloquent and rich interpretation and experiences, which bring to life the God within YOU and ignited in us, by you.
    I love you dearly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Psalm 23: The Banquet – #DapaahdotCom

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