Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 15 which begins by asking a crystal clear question:

LORD, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?

Psalm 15:1

In other words, “What is it you’re looking for in me that I may be your friend, living under your protection?”.

In our first reading, Abraham is in the process of deciphering the answer to this question by responding wholeheartedly to God’s invitation and promise.

One of Abraham’s first actions when becoming God’s friend is an act of justice toward  his nephew Lot. Both their holdings had grown very large and their families began competing for resources. So Abraham gave Lot a choice to have his own land so both could live in security and peace.

Justice is the core of today’s readings, and it’s the ticket to God’s tent. I think it is a virtue which confuses many of us. We get it mixed up with concepts of law, vengeance, preferential judgements. But here’s the definition from the Catholic Catechism and I like it. It sounds academic, but it’s exactly what Abraham did for Lot in our first reading – he acted for “right relationship” which is the heart of justice. All in all, justice is just another face of Mercy.

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward persons disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Thomas Aquinas must have thought people were confused about justice too. He defined and explained it exhaustively in the Summa Theologiae

Psalm 15, though, makes it simpler for us. Here’s Christine Robinson’s transliteration:

How do truly good people live?
They speak the truth from their hearts
  have no hidden agendas, are
  loyal friends. 
They offer respect to their neighbors, but
  avoid the company of the selfish and the foolish,
They honor good people wherever they find them.
They live to do good, keep their word
   make their living with honest work
   and give generously from their abundance.
Their way of life makes them strong in heart.

I like people like that, and I want to be one of them – for God’s sake, other people’s, and my own. Praying with Psalm 15 can help us do that.

Poetry: Making Peace – Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Music: Conserva Me, Domine (Psalm 15) – Marc Antoine Charpentier

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