Psalm 102: Joys and Sorrows

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 102, the prayer of someone in the midst of suffering. The psalm is introduced with stark honesty:

The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away 
whose anguish is poured out before the LORD.

Psalm 102: 1

Psalm 102 speaks to those places in life’s journey where we experience intense, perhaps overwhelming suffering.

In our first reading, the Israelites suffer through what seems like a never-ending journey of homelessness. In our Gospel, Jesus begins his final journey toward his Passion and Death. These both were journeys with suffering as a constant companion

No one avoids suffering in some way. It is part of being human. Even our beloved Catherine McAuley left us this succinct maxim:

This is your life, joys and sorrow mingled,
one succeeding the other.

Letter to Frances Warde (May 28, 1841)

The psalmist, in the midst of his suffering, calls out to God for a return of the promised joy.

O LORD, hear my prayer,
    and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
    in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.  


This prayer attests to the psalmist’s undaunted faith and to God’s unwavering fidelity.

This mutual faithfulness is where we all must stand in sorrow so that we may come, as Jesus did, to the fullness of Resurrection grace.

As we come closer to the profound mysteries of Holy Week, let us not only reverence our own joys and sorrows. Let us ask to enter more deeply into the experience of Jesus in this final unfolding of his life. May we deepen in the understanding that the suffering of Jesus is one with the suffering of our sisters and brothers.


Poetry: On Another’s Sorrow – William Blake 

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no!  never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear --

And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give his joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

Oh He gives to us his joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan

Music: You Raise Me Up – Josh Grogan

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