Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
January 20, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 85, a Psalm we have prayed with so often in our daily liturgy.. Have we wrung it dry, do you think?
Never! That’s the beauty of scripture and particularly of the Psalms. They speak to us in a new voice with each new day’s blessings and challenges.
The verse that grasps my heart this morning is this:
Near indeed is salvation to those who fear God
glory dwelling in our land.PSALM 85: 10
What will “glory”, or well-being,
look like when it dwells in our land,
throughout our earth?
Walter Brueggemann, in his many writings about the Old Testament and the Psalms, stresses the concept of “neighborliness” as integral to communal well-being.
The well-being of the neighborhood, inspired by the biblical texts, makes possible―and even insists upon―an alternative to the ideology of individualism that governs our society’s practice and policy. This kind of community life returns us to the arc of God’s gifts―mercy, justice, and law. The covenant of God in the witness of biblical faith speaks now and demands that its interpreting community resist individualism, overcome commoditization, and thwart the rule of empire through a life of radical neighbor love.
(Description of Brueggemann’s book, God, Neighbor, Empire: The Excess of Divine Fidelity and the Command of Common Good)
Thousands of years ago, the psalmist clearly described the glorious community which God promises to those who live in mercy, truth, justice and peace:
Mercy and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
The LORD will give benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before the Lord,
and salvation, along the way of God’s pattern.PSALM 85
Prose: In his Inaugural Address, President Biden referenced the concept of neighborliness. Here is the quote from St. Augustine used by the President, as well as the passage from Cicero which inspired Augustine.
If one should say, ‘a people is the association of a multitude of rational beings united by a common agreement on the objects of their love,’ then it follows that to observe the character of a people we must examine the objects of its love.” ST. AUGUSTINE, CITY OF GOD 19.24
A republic is a numerous gathering brought together by legal consent and community of interest. The primary reason for this coming together is not so much weakness as a sort of innate desire on the part of human beings to form communities. For our species is not made up of solitary individuals. CICERO, REPUBLIC, 1.39-40
Music: After Cicero and Augustine, a little music from our own modern philosopher, Mr. Rogers