Our Psalm: If…

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 23, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the Book of Daniel both for our Responsorial Psalm and for our first reading. 

As I read through today’s scripture passages, I immediately thought of my wonderful college Logic professor, Florence Fay. She was free-spirited, colorful, brilliant and clear. I loved her classes. It was Dr. Fay who implanted a love for syllogisms (if-then statements) in my young mind.

Today, multiple syllogisms popped out to me from our first reading and Gospel.

from Daniel:

If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, then may he save us!

from John:

But even if he will not, (then) know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.

If you remain in my word, then you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

If you were Abraham’s children,
(then) you would be doing the works of Abraham. 
If God were your Father, (then) you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.

I’ve prayed some pretty frantic “if-then” prayers at desperate times in my life. They sound like this:
“Dear God, if You just get me out of this mess I made, then I promise to turn into a Saint!”

But, obviously, with such prayers, I didn’t get the sacred “logic” right.
I think a lot of people don’t get it right, sometimes disastrously, as in:
“If God had answered my prayer, then I would still go to church. But he didn’t, so I don’t.”

Daniel’s “Psalm” serves as a perfect instruction for how we must respond to God, no matter the outcome of our “if-then” moments. If we close ourselves to God’s presence even in our disappointments, we will never grow into God’s ever-new imagination for our lives.

Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
    praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
    praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.

Poetry: If— by Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Music: Even If – MercyMe

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