Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
February 23, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, thought to be a young David’s thanksgiving prayer after God saved him from one of his many dangerous escapades.
In telling his deliverance story, David invites his friends to celebrate with him and to learn the faith-lesson he has learned:
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
I picture myself sitting in David’s audience, absorbing the words of his prayer. This line strikes me:
Ah, the Lord has eyes for me….for ME! It conjures up sounds of The Flamingos, doesn’t it? (Sorry for the transcriber’s misspelling 😀)
Most of us want to think that we are individually special to God. This desire is at the core of the Protestant Evangelical model, “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. But for some, this model has become confused with a prosperity gospel that is quite misleading.
The only prosperity we should seek from God is the gift of grace because:
Yahweh’s peculiar inclinations are with the broken-hearted and the ones with crushed spirit. That is, Yahweh’s solidarity is not with the ones who go from success to success, but the ones denied success.Walter Brueggemann The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary Ausberg Publishing House 1984
Still, such a personal relationship is not alien to a full and complete faith:
Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us.Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 2009
(Look for an extra prayer about “The Eye of God” in another post today.)
However, our psalm alerts us that this deeply personal dimension is only part of relationship with God.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
To be seen and heard by God, one must be part of the just community. To be close to God, one must feel the brokenheartedness of the poor. We come to the psalmist’s exuberant praise only by walking with suffering, either in our own lives, or beside others who bear distress.
Psalm 34 teaches us that our personal relationship with God is interdependent with our relationship with the whole community. David calls his community to share in his praise-song because they- together -recognize God’s mercy and share it in concern for one another.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
Our Gospel today confirms that a personal love for God thrives only within a communal love. The prayer Jesus shares is not “My Father”. It is “Our Father”. We come to the depths of God’s merciful heart with our sisters and brothers.
Poetry: An Inclusive Lord’s Prayer – Author unknown
in whom is heaven,
may Your name be honored everywhere.
May Your Mercy reign.
May the desire of Your heart for the world
in us, by us and through us.
Give us each and all
the bread we need for the day.
Free us to forgive others.
Keep us from all anxiety, fear, and selfishness.
For You reign in the power that comes from love
which is Your glory
forever and ever.
Music: Our Father – Joe Wise