Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 92, the only psalm in the Hebrew Bible assigned to a particular day – Shabbat. Combined with our readings, especially Ezekiel, it invites us to heartfelt prayer.

Shabbat (שַׁבָּת; related to Hebrew verb “cease, rest”) is the seventh day of the Jewish week and is the day of rest and abstention from work as commanded by God. Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) and to observe (shamor).

from jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Psalm 92 captures the spirit we hope for in all our Sundays- peace, reflective gratitude, patient hope, recognized blessing. It is a time to remember God’s goodness to us and to reflect on God’s presence.

But, as you may know, I write these reflections a day ahead. And my Saturday morning was anything but “Shabbatish”! I stayed up too late last night, slept too late this morning, and had to handle an early grocery order. To top it all off, a glass exploded in my housemate’s face as she emptied the dishwasher! (She’s fine, but it was like lightening hit our kitchen.)

It all left me a little distracted!

I tell you this to say that – yes – prayer comes begrudgingly when we don’t make the space for it.

But when we do take a breath and quiet ourselves, it can be amazingly generous.

Over time, the seeds of a consistently prayerful life will bear fruit even under challenging conditions. As Jesus tells us today:

It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.

Our #92 psalmist prays that kind of a prayer today. Here’s the way I read it with my heart:

It is good to give thanks to you LORD,
    to sing praise to your name, Beloved,
To proclaim your kindness at daybreak,
and even later if I miss its rising!
    To know your faithfulness
even in my distractions.

You let my prayer bear fruit 
even in the shade of time and its pressures,
    my faith to be vigorous and sturdy.
I sing of your goodness,LORD,
    You, my Steady Love who is always faithful.

Poetry: The Spirit’s Whispers by Colten Biro, S.J.

If only my words were 
poised, precise, perfect ballerinas.
If only they could pirouette on a point,

Holding a pose, arresting rapt attention,
Meaning twirling out past paradox of The Ineffable,
convincing the very orbit of the Son to stop and listen,
to nothing more significant—than me.

If only my words were quick, sharp, exact,
halting in the air for emphasis and recognition.
All of which calm, careful, and controlled.
All of which holding the attention of the Heavens,
interrupting an unceasing song of seraphim and cherubim.

If only my words were anything, 
but garbled, goofy, grating,
and less akin to rodeo clowns than en pointe figurines.
But they are bumbling and boisterous, 
dancing dunces, 
threading a thin, thimble-like thought
that the gait of my racing heart
could avoid running into either 
lines of bull—or truth too true.
Which means my words, in effect, 
avoid bearing my very heart, directly to You.

If only the words, with a gentle extension
and a faint flourish, could entwine:
        my desires—Your Will. 
        my loneliness—Your Presence.
        my pain—the Resurrection.
      my disquiet—Your Peace.

Completing a grand jete,
coupling cacophonous 
concepts midair—and mid-heart.

And yet, 
my words
don’t dance
or sing
at all.

So, I don’t speak.
My words don’t waltz, so much as whimper.
And my seat here in the pew feels too quiet
in the muffled silence of the sanctuary.

Maybe, Lord, You have the words 
I can perfectly perform,
to cry anything but Abba.
Which for now,
is the only word I pray,
while paralyzed in the repeating echoes
of my pointless pirouetting.

Music: Vento di Passioni – James Horner

As we pray today, may a flight of prayerful gratitude spring from our spirits!

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