Psalm 117: As We Pray with Paul

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

January 25, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 117, a psalm used for the feast of an Apostle, reflecting his/her role to: 

Luke tells us how Jesus summarized the “Good News”:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Luke 4:18-19


from the Palatine Chapel in Sicily

As we celebrate St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, Psalm 117 gives voice to the indescribable gratitude we feel for the call we share with the Apostles to live and witness to the “Good News”.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
    glorify him, all you peoples!
For steadfast is God’s Mercy toward us,
   and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever.

Psalm 117: 1

Praying with Psalm 117, and with Saint Paul today, we may find inspiration in Paul’s self-description as an Apostle – a “servant”:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 1: 1-4

Poetry: A Thanksgiving -John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
I think this poem by Newman expresses sentiments similar to some of Paul’s thoughts on his life and vocation as found in his letters and in Acts.

LORD , in this dust Thy sovereign voice
First quicken’d love divine;
I am all Thine,–Thy care and choice,
My very praise is Thine.

I praise Thee, while Thy providence
In childhood frail I trace,
For blessings given, ere dawning sense
Could seek or scan Thy grace;

Blessings in boyhood’s marvelling hour,
Bright dreams, and fancyings strange;
Blessings, when reason’s awful power
Gave thought a bolder range;

Blessings of friends, which to my door
Unask’d, unhoped, have come;
And, choicer still, a countless store
Of eager smiles at home.

Yet, LORD , in memory’s fondest place
I shrine those seasons sad,
When, looking up, I saw Thy face
In kind austereness clad.

I would not miss one sigh or tear,
Heart-pang, or throbbing brow;
Sweet was the chastisement severe,
And sweet its memory now.

Yes! let the fragrant scars abide,
Love-tokens in Thy stead,
Faint shadows of the spear-pierced side
And thorn-encompass’d head.

And such Thy tender force be still,
When self would swerve or stray,
Shaping to truth the froward will
Along Thy narrow way.

Deny me wealth; far, far remove
The lure of power or name;
Hope thrives in straits, in weakness love,
And faith in this world’s shame

Music: Saul’s Transformation – one of many lovely pieces from the film, Paul Apostle of Christ by Jan A. P. Kaczmarek

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