Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 114, eight short but extremely powerful verses. They summarize the entire faith journey of Israel, a People born in the Exodus and coming to full promise as they pass over the Jordan.

Crossing the Jordan by James Tissot

Our first reading describes that Jordan passage which mirrors the miraculous passage through the Red Sea. Joshua becomes the new Moses leading the people, finally, into the Promised Land

As early as the 6th century, Psalm 114 was included in funeral and burial liturgies in order to emphasize the triumphant and joyful character of our final passage into heaven.

It’s hard for us to think of death that way. On a purely human level, death feels sad – like an end or a loss. But our faith says differently. 

Even throughout life, in all our smaller losses, frustrations and failures, our faith encourages us to see things differently. Faith calls us to see each “exodus” , each “crossing”, as the beginning of a journey to a new promise. It calls us to remember that the seas and rivers will part – that God always makes a way.

Faith calls us to receive
life’s contradictions and impasses
as opportunities to learn a different way.

In Psalm 114, the poet-psalmist uses natural metaphors to remind us of God’s transformative presence in our lives. The Red Sea disappears. The Jordan River opens a path. Mountains skip and hills leap out of our way.

Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Jordan, that you turned back?
Mountains, that you skipped like rams?
You hills, like lambs?

Psalm 114: 5-6

When we face turbulent seas, overwhelming passages, exoduses from the comfortable places, may we find courage in remembering God’s faithfulness as Psalm 114 encourages us to do.

Poetry: The Valley of Vision – Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. 
Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, 
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, 
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

Music: God Will Make a Way – Don Moen

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