Psalm 27: How to Wait!

Friday of the First Week of Advent

December 4, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27 with its glorious opening salvo:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Of whom should I be afraid?


 Psalm 27 reminds us that, amidst all the fluster of life, there is only one thing that matters:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

Psalm 27:4

The hard part, as the psalmist tells us, is to wait – not just to wait for heaven at the end of it all – but to wait to discover God in each moment. 

I find waiting to be pretty challenging, especially when I’m waiting for something over which I have no control.

Sometimes God seems pretty buried in our lives and in the clamor of the world. It’s tough to wait with hope when we just can’t see the Beloved.


But our psalm charges us to practice hopeful waiting for the grace that comes to us in every moment.

May we wait with courage, hope, and confidence for the gift God eternally gives us.


Poem: from Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth by Walter Brueggemann 

In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.

And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.

Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.

Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edge of our finger tips.

We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case and make all things new.
Amen.

Music: Waiting – by Isisip

Psalm 144: My Mercy!

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday, November 21, 2020

From 2018 Post:
We celebrate the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This feast memorializes a story not present in Scripture. We know of it only from apocryphal writings, those considered of unsubstantiated origin. It tells of Mary’s dedication in the Temple at the age of three. Some versions say she remained there until the age of twelve, thus giving her life fully to God even from youth.

On the day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we celebrate that dedication of herself which Mary made to God from her very childhood under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace … .” (Liturgy of the Hours)


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on Mary’s holy feast, we pray with Psalm 144, a song attributed to David as he thanks God for his war victories.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.

How strange that the Church would use this psalm to celebrate gentle Mary as we commemorate her Presentation in the Temple. The traditional story, not included in scripture, is that Mary’s grateful parents brought her, at age three, to be dedicated to God.

The Presentation of Mary by Titian

Psalm 144 reminds us, as we pray with Mary today, that life can be filled with daunting challenges. It can even, at times, seem like a war. Pope Francis has described our times as beset by a “culture of death’:

It is difficult both to recognize and to contradict the overwhelming barrage of selfish, materialistic messaging our culture throws at us. It really is an ongoing battle.

But it is a battle we face not with weapons of violence. We stand up, like Mary, by the power of the God in whom we trust.

My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who rallies strength around me.


We pray with Mary:

  • to discern the path of grace for our lives 
  • to turn our whole lives over to God, 
  • to become a portal for God to enter our world

We pray for the courage to be God’s new song of hope for our times.

O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to your beloved,
and deliver us from the grasp of evil.


Poem: To the Immaculate Virgin, On a Winter Night – Thomas Merton

Lady, the night is falling and the dark
Steals all the blood from the scarred west.
The stars come out and freeze my heart
With drops of untouchable music, frail as ice
And bitter as the new year's cross.

Where in the world has any voice
Prayed to you, Lady, for the peace that's in your power?
In a day of blood and many beatings
I see the governments rise up, behind the steel horizon,
And take their weapons and begin to kill.

Where in the world has any city trusted you?
Out where the soldiers camp the guns begin to thump
And another winter time comes down
To seal our years in ice.
The last train cries out
And runs in terror from this farmer's valley
Where all the little birds are dead.

The roads are white, the fields are mute
There are no voices in the wood
And trees make gallows up against the sharp-eyed stars.
Oh where will Christ be killed again
In the land of these dead men?

Lady, the night has got us by the heart
And the whole world is tumbling down.
Words turn to ice in my dry throat
Praying for a land without prayer,

Walking to you on water all winter
In a year that wants more war.

Music: Blessed Be the Lord, My Rock – by Abbie Betinis sung by St. Pius X Choir, Atlanta, Georgia

Blessed be the Lord, my rock and my fortress, 

  my stronghold, my deliverer, 

  My shield and he in whom I take refuge. 

We are like breath, 

  our days are like a passing shadow. 

Bow thy heav’ns, O Lord, 

  come down! 

Stretch forth thy hand from on high, 

  rescue me, deliver me. 

I will sing a new song to thee, O God. 

– Psalm 144

Psalm 1: Our Great Trees

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 16, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1 which tells us that a vigorous spiritual life roots us firmly in God.

One who delights in the law of the LORD,
and meditates on God’s law day and night
is like a tree planted near running water.

That rootedness steadies us even in life’s fierce winds, unlike the fate of the spiritually lifeless.

… they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the faithless vanishes.

We all can think of Saints,
living and dead, in our lives
who are like these deeply rooted trees.
Gratefully recognizing them helps us
to grow and deepen our own faith.

I think of my parents who were ordinary people, not scripture scholars or recognized prophets. They simply prayed every day, and tried to do good for and with the people in their lives. Their energy was focused on God and others, not themselves. They were honest, humble, grateful people. They never realized how holy they really were.

They were like those trees planted near running streams, feeding on the waters of generosity not greed. They were strong in life’s winds, which were many and sometimes ferocious. Theirs was a quiet and unassuming faith, but immovable as rock.

My brother and I were blessed to grow up in the shade of those trees, a blessing which made us want to be like them. 


  • Today:
  • Let’s pray for continuing grace to deepen our roots in God.
  • Let’s pray for a faith that nurtures and encourages those God has placed under our branches.
  • Let’s stretch the reach of our tree’s caring shade to all our sisters and brothers, especially those scorched by pain and poverty.
  • Let’s drink deeply of the life-giving waters God offers us.

Poetry: I learned that her name was Proverb by Denise Levertov

And the secret names
of all we meet who lead us deeper
into our labyrinth
of valleys and mountains, twisting valleys
and steeper mountains—
their hidden names are always,
like Proverb, promises.
Rune, Omen, Fable, Parable,
those we meet for only
one crucial moment, gaze to gaze,
or for years know and don’t recognize
but of whom later a word
sings back to us
as if from high among leaves,
still near but beyond sight
drawing us from tree to tree
towards the time and the unknown place
where we shall know
what it is to arrive.

Music: Tree Song by Evie Karlsson
If you have young ones in your life, you may want to listen to this song together. A very simply expressed, yet profound, message.

Psalm 128: Awesome Blessing!

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 15, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 128 which is used this Sunday to connect a series of readings about “fruitfulness” and its eternal endurance.


Our readings today intensify a tone evident in recent weeks – a theme I call “end of the line warnings”. Just two weeks out from Advent, and the end of the 2020 Liturgical Year, we have our annual confrontation with “The End Times”.

I have never enjoyed these readings. They actually scared me as a child, and they don’t make me too carefree even now. The only thing that makes them tolerable is that they herald the coming of Advent, a favorite time for hope-filled readings. 


  • But to get to those Advent scriptural delights, we have to face:
  • sudden disaster like labor pains
  • darkness like a thief in the night
  • alert and sober sleeplessness
  • and, if we’re not vigilant, a potential toss into the darkness outside where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

In the midst of these terror-producing readings, Psalm 128 can be like a calming cup of camomile tea. It reminds us – serenely, yet directly – of enduring blessings and how we secure them.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in the Lord’s ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.


Today’s readings are sprinkled with two usually contrasting words: fear and blessing. However, our prayer may lead us to realize that these actions can be complementary from a spiritual perspective.

When we live in awe, or holy fear,  before God’s Presence and Power, our life is blessed with fruitful – just and merciful – relationships with all Creation, including an anticipated joy in our eternal home. As Christine Robinson transliterates Psalm 128:

You are blessed, who know God’s grace
and who follow the Way of Life.
Happiness and contentment are yours.
Your home is a place of growth and love.
Your city a better place for your life in it.
Your life of faithful work, prayerful reflection,and shared love
blesses those around you with life and peace.

…and you can look forward with joy to your continuing eternal life with God and God’s beloved family.


Poetry: To Heaven by Ben Johnson who is among the best-known writers and theorists of English Renaissance literature, second in reputation only to Shakespeare. A prolific dramatist and a man of letters highly learned in the classics, he profoundly influenced the Augustan age through his emphasis on the precepts of Horace, Aristotle, and other classical Greek and Latin thinkers.

Good and great God, can I not think of thee 
But it must straight my melancholy be? 
Is it interpreted in me disease 
That, laden with my sins, I seek for ease? 
Oh be thou witness, that the reins dost know 
And hearts of all, if I be sad for show, 
And judge me after; if I dare pretend 
To ought but grace or aim at other end. 
As thou art all, so be thou all to me, 
First, midst, and last, converted one, and three; 
My faith, my hope, my love; and in this state 
My judge, my witness, and my advocate. 
Where have I been this while exil'd from thee? 
And whither rap'd, now thou but stoop'st to me? 
Dwell, dwell here still. O, being everywhere, 
How can I doubt to find thee ever here? 
I know my state, both full of shame and scorn, 
Conceiv'd in sin, and unto labour borne, 
Standing with fear, and must with horror fall, 
And destin'd unto judgment, after all. 
I feel my griefs too, and there scarce is ground 
Upon my flesh t' inflict another wound. 
Yet dare I not complain, or wish for death 
With holy Paul, lest it be thought the breath 
Of discontent; or that these prayers be 
For weariness of life, not love of thee. 

Music: Benedictus – Karl Jenkins

Psalm 119: Life’s Labyrinth

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

November 13, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119 which is filled with repeated invitations to awake to the beauty of God’s Law all around and within us. But sometimes in our spiritual life, just as in our physical life, we just don’t want to wake up, do we?😉


Our psalm today tells us we need to be alert, to actively seek God in our lives:

Blessed are they who observe the Lord’s decrees,
who seek God with all their heart.

Psalm 119: 2

It’s not easy to believe that God can be found in everything, even the things that challenge and hurt us. It requires a new way of looking, of seeing.

God’s presence isn’t always sweet and comforting. In our bitter times, God may be with us in a push to change, or to resist, or to protest. It helps to trust that there is an integrity to God’s path in our lives, and that, by grace, we will be led to holiness, even in challenge.

With all my heart I seek your path,
let me not stray from your commands.
Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not stray from your law.

Walking a labyrinth is a good way to intentionally practice this type of trusting prayer. Doing this, we rediscover the times God has already led us through life’s surprising, and sometimes immobilizing, twists.

We begin to see an order in what we thought was chaos, the order of God’s immutable law of love:

Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.

If you would like to pray with a labyrinth, this website is a great start. The Dominican Sisters of Peace take us through praying with a “finger labyrinth”. 


Poem: Excerpt from THE HOUND OF HEAVEN by Francis Thompson
Here is just the beginning of Thompson’s great poem, which speaks of the “labyrinthine” ways…

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
             Up vistaed hopes I sped;
             And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
   From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
             But with unhurrying chase,
             And unperturbéd pace,
     Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
             They beat — and a Voice beat —
             More instant than the Feet
     'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me'.

Music: The Peace of God – from Labyrinth by David Baloche

Psalm 37: Be Wholehearted

Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

November 10, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 37, a song of promise and encouragement to live a good life. Although I don’t usually choose to write a subjective reflection, a life-shaping memory keeps rising up from this psalm today.

I was nineteen years old, kneeling on an antique prie-dieu in front of the Superior General. She was about to rename me “Sister Something” for the rest of my life. You know, something like this picture – except that novice couldn’t sing quite as well as I did! 🙂

We postulants had been able to submit three suggestions, so I was expecting a name in honor of my mother or father, or my own baptismal name. How stunned was I when Mother intoned, “God bless you, Sister Mary Nathaniel”- a name I had heard maybe once in American Lit class! (You remember Hawthorne, right?)


But my shock is not the point of the story. Later, Mother took me aside and told me that she gave me the name because I reminded her of Nathaniel in the Gospel – the guileless one. Being guileless I guess, I told her I didn’t know what “guileless” meant. She said, “It means whole hearted. Be wholehearted, without pretense.”

The LORD watches over the lives of the wholehearted;
their inheritance lasts forever.
By the LORD are your steps made firm,
as the Lord blesses your way.


Psalm 37 gave me the gift of that word, and that memory, again today. I realized that it is still taking me a lifetime to live into Mother’s long-ago challenge. 

Trust in the LORD and do good,
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the LORD,
and God will grant you your heart’s requests.


Even though, after Vatican II, I eventually returned to my baptismal name, my heart has remained “Nathaniel”. Like the disciple under the fig tree, I am still trying to weave a true and loving life out of life’s tangled threads – still trying to do so wholeheartedly and without guile.

Gratefully and humbly, I thank God for watching over me. But God is not the only one. Mother Bernard came once more this morning, borne on memory’s beloved wing, to bless me with renewed hope and challenge.

As we pray this psalm today, let us call on the memory of those who have blessed us by their confidence and hope in us. Let us call on the God who watches over our desire to be truly wholehearted disciples.

Poem: Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927) – a writing I loved in my youth and have often passed on to those just beginning the glorious journey.

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, 
and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible, without surrender, 
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, 
even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. 
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; 
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, 
for the world is full of trickery. 
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; 
many persons strive for high ideals, 
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. 
Neither be cynical about love; 
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, 
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, 
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. 
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, 
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive God to be. 
And whatever your labors and aspirations, 
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Music: Tenderhearted – Jeanne Cotter

Psalm 46: Building Hope

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Monday, November 9, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 46, a song of confidence, celebration, and joy.

The waters of the river gladden the city of God, 
the holy dwelling of the Most High!


A city gladdened! We know what it looks like. Just this week, we’ve seen it right here in my city, beloved Philadelphia – people dancing in the streets with those who are no longer strangers.

Perhaps people danced in the Roman plaza in 324 AD when Pope Sylvester dedicated the church. Not sure. But it is the power of a civic act, to give people a “place” wherein to claim renewed identity. ( The word “civic” comes from a Latin phrase describing an award given for a noble public deed.)


The dedication of St. John Lateran was such an act. The glorious building shouted out in its massive stones, “God lives among us, the Foundation of our lives.”

Or, as our psalmist puts it:

God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.


Our faith, and the morality it sustains, live deep under the surface of our lives, like the unseen roots of a magnificent tree. The power of those hidden roots is attested to by generations of leaves and branches unfurling in the cycle of life.

Those acts of faith, be they in the construction of sacred buildings or the washing of a beggar’s feet, shout out our conviction that, “God lives among us, the Foundation of our lives.” 

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.


I began thinking about this reflection last night after President-Elect Biden’s acceptance speech. To me, the world felt lighter than it had in four years. It had begun to breathe again. Hope was returning to its perch in our hearts. This after the terrible fear that it might have died or gotten lost in a long migration into darkness.



I think it is the greatest of sins to kill hope,
especially for those who have only hope to cling to.
Because, indeed, as Joe Biden assured us last night,
when we share hope, we can do anything
in the God who strengthens us.


Hope is its own great “basilica”, built from the stones of mutual charity, reverence, and trust which God fires in our hearts:

The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the LORD,
the astounding things God has wrought on earth.

As we pray Psalm 42 today, let us ask for the continuing grace to exercise hope for and with one another.

Poetry: Hope Restored by Craig A. Roberts, a New Zealand poet. I thought this was a beautiful poem-prayer. His book of poetry can be found here.

Discouraging events, 
entangling thoughts,
melancholic tsunamis form
in quick time, devastating my soul,
destroying the joyful breath of life.
Surges of futility, rejection
and self pity breach the dykes.
I churn and tumble in dark sucking swells.

I call to Him who loves me in abundance.
Swiftly He comes,
plucks me out of dark waters.
He is here now.
He whispers of promises never broken,
reminds me of my calling,
my inward journey,
my vocation.

He reassures my heart,
He restores my poise.
He sends me to wander by the waters edge, 
immersed in His creative wonder
Christ breathes afresh into my created being.

O what joy. Bathed in His steadfast love
I trust all to Christ,
false illusions destroyed,
hope restored,
possibilities unfold,
His kingdom comes.

Music: On Eagle’s Wings – sung by Josh Groban 

Psalm 27: Waiting with Faith

Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop

November 4, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, a brilliant testimony of faith and trust.


As you know, I write each day’s reflection on the preceding morning. As I write today, most polls have not opened. The political fate of the US remains hidden in a future yet unfolded. And yet you will be praying with this reflection on a morning when at least some of that fate will be known.

What to say then that will hold meaning no matter how the chips fall? The question was causing me some consternation until I opened to our psalm. 


God has an infinitely bigger view of reality than any one of us! And our psalm invites us to live in that “blessed assurance” despite the shifting exigencies of our lives.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?


Will the election outcome matter to me tomorrow when I wake up to pray? You’re darn right it will! But there is a foundational truth that matters far beyond the day’s circumstances:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate God’s eternal Presence.


Indeed, it is toward that hope that all our life’s energy must be directed. No matter who emerges victorious from the election, we must continue to work for a world where every person enjoys the bounty of the Lord.

Today I hope and pray for leaders who work with us, not against us, in that pursuit. In any case though, let us pray for courage to continue, with God’s grace, to build a “land of the living” for all God’s people.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.


Poem: Trust by Thomas R. Smith

It’s like so many other things in life   
to which you must say no or yes.                                    
So you take your car to the new mechanic.   
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.   
The package left with the disreputable-looking   
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,   
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—   
all show up at their intended destinations.   
The theft that could have happened doesn’t.   
Wind finally gets where it was going   
through the snowy trees, and the river, even               
when frozen, arrives at the right place.                        
And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life   
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

Music: Blessed Assurance sung by James Ingram

“Blessed Assurance” is a well-known Christian hymn.The lyrics were written in 1873 by writer Fanny Crosby who was blind. The melody was composed by Fanny’s friend Phoebe Knapp.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Psalm 96: A New Song

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 18, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, one of the “royal psalms” praising God as King.

Bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness.
Tremble before God, all the earth;
declare among the nations: The LORD is King.
The world will surely stand fast, 
never to be shaken.
The Lord rules the peoples with fairness.
The Lord rules the peoples with fairness.

Psalm 96: 9-10

Our psalm today forms a link between two readings about two different kinds of human kings.

In our first reading, we hear about King Cyrus, an “anointed” one:

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him …

Isaiah 45;1

In fact, Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. This became a very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. Israel thrived under Cyrus and found no barriers to their own religious practices


In our Gospel, however, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus by testing him about their current political leadership, which is not so kindly inclined to the people:

Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?

Matthew 22:17

Jesus’s answer pretty much tells to Pharisees to obey the legitimate law. But that answer is secondary to his real challenge to them:

Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?


Our psalm is the praise song of a people who do not “test” God; who receive both the blessings and trials of life with faith and hope, and seek the path to God within those circumstances.

A “Cyrus” builds up that holy courage in the people. A “Caesar” only builds up himself.


In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul shows himself to be such an “anointed” leader, praying for and encouraging the Church in the journey of faith:

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father …


Today, there’s a lot of politics swirling in the wind – a lot of discerning about leadership and our own brand of “kings”. The current sufferings of our time cause our hearts to long for “a new song”.

The readings today remind me that the only way our spirits can …

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell God’s glory among the nations;
among all peoples, God’s wondrous deeds

… is by living Paul’s formula – “to live our lives as a work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.


:Sing a New Song – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Psalm 33: God’s Peace

Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

October 16, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 which has been described as “a song of praise” and a call to worship. But as I pray with it this morning, I think of the psalm as much more. Within it is a profound call to social justice grounded in faith.

Maybe my attitude is the result of a commercial I keep thinking about. You may have seen it – the one for an organization called Wounded Warriors. Every time I see it, my soul splits. There is deep compassion, admiration and respect for the veterans depicted. But there is also the raging question “WHY!”.

How can we still allow, tout, and support the systemic atrocity of war in any form? How can we see these young men and women, bodies maimed and lives fractured, and not be outraged that war even exists!


I think that, thousands of years ago, the writer of Psalm 33 may have entertained similar questions. The psalmist realizes that it is not by the superiority of the nation state that a people gains righteousness and mercy.

The LORD foils the plan of nations,
frustrates the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever,
the designs of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people chosen as his inheritance.

Psalm 33:10-12

It is instead by acknowledging God’s care for all peoples that a nation achieves the humility, understanding, and courage to help build universal peace.

From heaven the LORD looks down
and observes all the children of Adam,
From his dwelling place he surveys
all who dwell on earth.
The One who fashioned together their hearts
is the One who knows all their works.

Psalm 33:13-15

The challenge of global peace-making is daunting. We “children of Adam” have permitted ourselves to not only normalize, but to exalt war. Reversing the systems that depend on and lead to war will be a long, complex, and arduous pursuit.

But for God’s sake, and our own, we must do it!
Our soul waits for the LORD,
he is our help and shield.
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
May your mercy, LORD, be upon us;
as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33: 20-21

Reading: from
In Truth, Peace
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE
1 JANUARY 2006

The theme chosen for this year’s reflection—In truth, peace — expresses the conviction that wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendour of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace. The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, promulgated forty years ago at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, stated that humankind will not succeed in ”building a truly more human world for everyone, everywhere on earth, unless all people are renewed in spirit and converted to the truth of peace”. 

But what do those words, ”the truth of peace”, really mean? To respond adequately to this question, we must realize that peace cannot be reduced to the simple absence of armed conflict, but needs to be understood as ”the fruit of an order which has been planted in human society by its divine Founder”, an order ”which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for ever more perfect justice”. As the result of an order planned and willed by the love of God, peace has an intrinsic and invincible truth of its own, and corresponds ”to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us”.


Music: Let There Be Peace on Earth sung by the magnificent Wintley Phipps