Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 95. 

This psalm and our other readings today are filled with rocks. So that seems to be the symbol speaking to us today.

Photo by Pixabay on

Psalm 95 is a summons to rejoice, but laced within it are stern reminders to remember and repent.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
    “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
    as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your forebearers tested me;
    they tested me though they had seen my works.”

Psalm 95: 8-9

The rock referred to in the psalm is the one Moses struck to release the waters. It is a contentious episode where the Israelites test God and Moses wavers in his faith.

These are the waters of Meribah,
where the children of Israel contended against the Lord,
and where the LORD’s sanctity was revealed among them.

Numbers 20:13

On the other hand, the rock in our Gospel passage refers to the strength and stability Peter receives and which will endure through the ages.

And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18
Latin inscription on dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – ” Tu es Petrus — You are Peter and upon this rock…”

So the “rock”, like any symbol, takes its meaning and relevance from the circumstances which surround it. 

This is true as well  for the “rocks” we meet in our own lives. Some are sources of strength, some nearly insurmountable obstacles.  Some are a test, some a consolation.

Praying with today’s psalm and other readings, we might take the time to reflect on our current or past “rocks”. 

May we realize and gratefully remember how God gives life-giving water even from these seemingly unyielding sources.

Poetry: Sorrow – Renee Yann, RSM

You must be alone
    with sorrow
    before you can leave it,
    or it will crush you
    like a black, heavy rock.

    You must drive into
    the hollow of its face,
    under the ledges
    it projects against you.
    Feel its cold granite
    pressed to your grain.

    In time,
    it will allow your turning
    to rest your back
    within its curve.

    Only then,
    you will be free to leave it,
    walking lightly once again
    on yielding earth.

    When you return, it will be freely,
    on a pilgrimage,
    to touch the name you carved once
    with the anguish of your heart.

Music: Rock of Ages

“Rock of Ages” is a popular Christian hymn written by the Reformed Anglican minister, the Reverend Augustus Toplady, in 1763 and first published in The Gospel Magazine in 1775.

Traditionally, it is held that Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills in England. Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was traveling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics. The fissure that is believed to have sheltered Toplady (51.3254°N 2.7532°W) is now marked as the “Rock of Ages”, both on the rock itself and on some maps.

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