Psalm 50: Clean It Up!

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

March 2, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 50 which Wikipedia describes as “a prophetic imagining of God’s judgement on the Israelites”.


It’s a rainy day here, after a foggy yesterday. A cheery psalm this morning would have been nice…. but, well it’s Lent.

Why do you recite my statutes,
    and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
    and cast my words behind you?

Psalm 50: 16-17

The psalm is a divine rebuke. It shouts, “Wake up! You’re missing the point!”

Psalm 50 calls us to examine the failures in love that we might bury under routine. It demands that we look under the surface of our daily practice for the depths of grace and transformation that we might be overlooking.


We can get pretty comfortable with our beliefs, our judgements, our attitudes, our habits. Left unexamined, these can deteriorate into prejudices and indifferences, into bigotry and self-righteousness, into betrayals of mercy.

Today’s Gospel gives us a perfect description of what happens to us when we fail to discern the “hardening of our spiritual arteries”. We get Pharisaical! Here’s what Jesus says about pharisees:

… they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

Matthew 23:4-7

Let’s learn humble, contrite self-examination by sincerely praying Psalm 50:

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice glorify me;
    and to those who go the right way 
    I will show the salvation of God.

Psalm 50: 23

Our first reading from Isaiah sums it up:

Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
    cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
    hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Isaiah 1:16-17

Poetry: God must give us a renewed mind (from Vale Millies) by Hadewijch. She was mystic of the 13th century
English version by Mother Columba Hart, Original Language Dutch

God must give us a renewed mind
     For nobler and freer love,
To make us so new in our life
     That Love may bless us
And renew, with new taste,
     Those to whom she can give new fulness;
Love is the new and powerful recompense
     Of those whose life renews itself for Love alone.
— Ay, vale, vale, millies — (farewell, farewell, a million times)
     That renewing of new Love
— Si dixero, non satis est — (If I can speak, it is not enough)
     Which renewal will newly experience.


Music: Psalm 50

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