Psalm 119: Guide Me, Lord

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

September 22, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with another of the Torah Psalms, Psalm 119. It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law. ( See yesterday’s reflection for some scholarly words on the Torah Psalms.)

In today’s verses, with lovely antiphonal lilt, the psalmist describes the holy person, then asks for the virtues to become one.

  • Blessed are the blameless….. so guide me in your ways.
  • I want to meditate on your deeds …. so make me understand.
  • I want to observe your laws … so give me discernment
  • I delight in your path …. so lead me on it.
  • I will keep your law forever …. if you will just guide me.

I don’t think God can resist a sincere prayer like this. The psalmist is saying, “I want to love you, God, with my whole life. But you, Almighty, must help my weakness.”

Notice the guy on the right 🙂

As we pray today with Psalm 119, we might let a similar prayer rise up in our hearts.

We, too, want to love God well – completely. We, too, need Divine guidance to discern God’s continuing call in the complexities of our lives. We, too, long to deepen in discernment and commitment.


The psalmist gives us good example. Just tell God like it is. Tell God what you really want, what you really need to love as God wishes us to love.

If you hear yourself making requests for power, money, fame, security in any of their selfish forms, you better start all over again!😉

Remember the beginning of the psalm, the foundation of our prayer:

Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.

In the Christian scriptures, that foundation is proclaimed like this:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


Let’s ask God for  the courage to offer a blameless prayer. The simple prayer of the Gospel centurion comes to mind:

Lord, I do believe. 
Help my unbelief.
Mark 9:24

Poetry: Morning Hymn by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley. They are considered founders of the Methodist religion.

Christ, whose glory fills the skies, 
Christ, the true, the only light, 
Sun of Righteousness, arise, 
Triumph o’er the shades of night:  
Day-spring from on high, be near:  
Day-star, in my heart appear.
  
Dark and cheerless is the morn  
Unaccompanied by thee,  
Joyless is the day’s return,  
Till thy mercy’s beams I see;  
Till thy inward light impart,  
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
  
Visit then this soul of mine,  
Pierce the gloom of sin, and grief,  
Fill me, Radiancy Divine,  
Scatter all my unbelief,  
More and more thyself display,  
Shining to the perfect day.

Music: Help My Unbelief – Audrey Assad

Psalm 19: Declare God’s Glory

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

September 21, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, one of the unique “Torah Psalms” (1, 19, 119) in which Israel celebrates the divine structure of life in all Creation, including ourselves.

James Luther Mays, in his article The Place of the Torah-Psalms in the Psalter, suggests that these psalms serve as a guide to how all the other psalms are to be read, interpreted and prayed.


Walter Brueggemann describes life without God as “normless” – without the structure of grace and relationship with God that holds all Creation in abundant Life. He refers to the Torah as a “norming” dynamism, and writes:

And when Israel … used the term “Torah” (never meaning simply or simplistically “law”), it refers to the entire legacy of norming that is elastic, dynamic, fluid, and summoning. The outcome of that legacy in the Psalter is the great Torah Psalms in which Israel celebrates, with joy, that the creator God has not left the world as a normless blob but has instilled in the very structure of creation the transformative capacity for enacted fidelity. That is why Psalm 19 juxtaposes the glory of creation that attests the creator (vv. 1–6) with the commandments that are the source of life.


Our verses today for the Feast of St. Matthew include this phrase…

Their message goes out through all the earth.

… perhaps equating the universal ministry of the Apostles to the transformative power and witness of the heavens to God’s immutable glory.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.


The teaching of the Apostles is codified for Catholics in the Apostles Creed. We might want to pray it slowly today, attentive to those “norming ” beliefs – our sort of fundamental “Torah” – which hold our lives in graceful relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, 
Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; 
the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, 
and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; 
from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, 
the holy Catholic Church, 
the communion of saints, 
the forgiveness of sins, 
the resurrection of the body 
and life everlasting.
Amen.

Poetry: XIX Caeli Ennarant by Malcolm Guite

In that still place where earth and heaven meet
Under mysterious starlight, raise your head
And gaze up at their glory:  ‘the complete

Consort dancing’ as a poet said
Of his own words. But these are all God’s words;
A shining poem, waiting to be read

Afresh in every heart. Now look towards
The brightening east, and see the splendid sun
Rise and rejoice, the icon of his lord’s

True light. Be joyful with him, watch him run
His course, receive the gift and treasure of his light
Pouring like honeyed gold till day is done

As sweet and strong as all God’s laws, as right
As all his judgements and as clean and pure,
All given for your growth, and your delight!


Music: Wonderland – David Nevis

Psalm 116: The Return?

Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, September 12, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the lilting Psalm 116, an intimate, tender, and powerful prayer.

The psalmist, overwhelmed by God’s goodness, asks a clear and urgent question:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good God has done for me?


The verse itself shows the spiritual awareness of the questioner. Some people don’t believe God has done anything for them. They think they’ve done everything for themselves! And it’s sad to see somebody lost in that illusion.

They never feel awe and gratitude that they have received, as pure gift from God:

  • the breath of life
  • the capacity to believe, hope and love
  • the beauty of all Creation
  • the heritage of faith, family and friendship
  • the blessing of community in its many forms
  • the particular gifts that make them unique in the world
  • the capacity to care, act, and change things toward good
  • the irrevocable invitation to befriend God
  • the Lavish Mercy and steadfast accompaniment of that Divine Inviter
  • the promise of eternity

As we grow in our capacity to recognize and live out of these gifts, we deepen in our “sacrifice of praise”.

Walter Brueggemann describes a sacrifice of praise like this:

It must be an intimate, yielding act of trustful submission of “spirit and heart,” not “sacrifice and burnt offerings”. The speaker (psalmist), now situated in glad praise, can imagine an intimacy and communion in which contact between God and self is available and in which the distinction between the two parties is clear and acknowledged—God in splendor, the self in “brokenness”.


That “brokenness” is fully given to God to heal and empower with grace so that one’s life becomes a witness to God’s love.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.


The “sacrifice of praise” is not accomplished in a single declaration or decision. It can begin like that. But to last, it must be “lived into”, moment by moment, through an intentional, prayerful life. That is the lesson of today’s Gospel – it is how we build our “house” on rock.


Poetry: God of Shelter, God of Shade – by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

God of shelter from the rain,
God of shade from the heat, 
I run from You
through the muddy street
of my uncommitted heart
till wild winds beat
against my doors,
blasting sand
through all my walls,
and I stand
without retreat,
hear Your command
to be the wheat. 
Sweet the giving!
Sweet this land! 
God of shelter from the rain.
God of shade from the heat.
Music: Alvin Slaughter and Inside out - The Sacrifice of Praise

Psalm 45: God Longs for Us

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 45 which scripture scholars interpret as a Davidic wedding song. Many believe it refers to the marriage of a king to the daughter of a royal foreign house.

The psalm is set today between two powerful readings. 

In our first reading, Paul gives an extended opinion piece on celibacy and marriage, a reading which has spawned countless academic interpretations. Our Gospel, pivotal to our understanding of holiness, also has generated abundant scholarly commentary.

We may finish today’s readings wondering who must I be to become the person God wants me to be? Celibate? Poor? Hungry? Sorrowful? Persecuted?  Like Francis Thompson in his famous poem, The Hound of Heaven, we may feel pursued by a God we might rather ignore!

For, though I knew His love Who followèd, 
        Yet was I sore adread 
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside

Indeed, the answer is not simple. Each person’s path to God’s heart is different. The readings don’t give us a foolproof map. Instead, they give us prompts about where we might go off the path.

In other words, the readings spread the stars across our heavens. But we must find our own bearings in life to allow us to continually deepen our relationship with God. If our current circumstances and choices prevent that in any way, we must reorient ourselves.


For me the lesson is this. God desires our complete love and worship. God wants to be the center of our lives. That’s why we exist. All the rest is incidental.

Our psalm captures it in this way:

Hear, my child, and see; turn your ear,
forget those things to which you are accustomed.
So shall the Lord desire your full commitment;
the Lord Whom you must worship with your life.


Our Gospel is uncompromising in its warning that obsession with material goods, personal comfort, and selfish success blocks our awareness of how distant we can grow from God:

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false 
prophets in this way.


We are blessed if we are free of these woes, but it is hard in a culture spiritually crippled by these obsessions.

Psalm 45 calls us to “bend our ear” toward God’s invitation. By sincere prayer and loving vigilance, we can hear the Divine whisper within our circumstances, leading us to fullness of life with God. We will recognize it by this: it always calls us to justice, mercy, and charity.

You love justice and hate wrongdoing;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your peers.


Poetry: Excerpt from The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson

( It’s a little “frilly” with early 20th century Romanticism, but – oh my! – some of its lines get burned into the memory!)

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 mist of tears 
I hid from Him, and under running laughter. 
Up vistaed hopes I sped; 
And shot, precipitated, 
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears, 
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. 
But with unhurrying chase, 
And unperturbèd pace, 
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, 
They beat—and a Voice beat 
More instant than the Feet— 
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’ 

Music: I Long for You – Ro Atilano

Psalm 119: Sweet Word

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin

August 11, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this feast of the beautiful St. Clare, we pray with Psalm 119. How perfect is the response phrase from our psalm!

How sweet to my taste is your promise!


Last night, we watched an old Colombo movie in which one of the characters was a vintner who had developed a peerless taste for fine wine. He could identify every detail – year, grape, region, price. He was the consummate connoisseur.

As I prayed this morning’s psalm, it struck me that through the intentional practice of prayer, we become connoisseurs of the spirit. We are able to discern ever more delicately those realities which carry grace to our souls.

How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!


As we deepen in spirit, we purify our taste from all that is not peace, goodness, justice, mercy, and charity. We let go of things that distract our souls from Love.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.


By our choices for what is truly precious, we build a legacy of sacred joy which sustains us throughout our lives:

Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
the joy of my heart they are.


from National Shine, Detroit

Poetry: from Clare of Assisi 

We become what we love 
and who we love shapes what we become. 
If we love things, we become a thing. 
If we love nothing, we become nothing. 
Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, 
rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, 
an image disclosed through transformation. 
This means we are to become vessels
of God's compassionate love for others.

Music: Mirror of Eternity (Clare of Assisi) – sung by John Michael Talbot

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself
      through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel
      as they taste the hidden sweetness
      which God Himself has reserved
      from the beginning
      for those who love Him
~ Clare of Assisi

Psalm 112: Key to Blessedness

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

August 10, 2020


“Beatus Vir” from a 9th Century Psalter

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112, a poetic description of what “holiness-in-action” looks like. The psalm’s tone is reminiscent of the beloved passage from Proverbs 31,  “Who shall find a valiant woman…” Only this passage says, “Blessed is the man… Beatus vir”.

Both these passages give us a glimpse into the righteousness expected of one who is in covenant with God. That person reflects the Divine Righteousness of God in both word and deed.

The “righteousness of God” comes down to concrete actions
that intend generous rehabilitation of those without resources.
The Psalms sing of these concrete acts.

Walter Brueggemann

A slow reading of the psalm is a good prayer today, asking God to help us open our hearts and choices to this graceful righteousness.  The heavily masculine translation can be a little off-putting for the women among us though. So you might like to use this translation as I did.


Happy are those who revere God 
    and delight in doing his will. 
Their children will be greatly honored 
    and their grandchildren greatly blessed. 
Abundance will fill their houses
     as gratitude fills their hearts. 
They conduct their affairs with justice; 
    their integrity cannot be shaken. 
They give of themselves to the poor 
    and share their wealth with the needy. 
They are patient, cheerful, compassionate, 
    generous, impeccably fair. 
They harbor no regrets for the past 
    and no worries about the future. 
Their minds are centered in God,
    and they trust him with all their hearts.
They honor themselves, and are honored; 
    they walk with their heads held high. 
Their rising is like the sunrise, 
    and their light fills heaven and earth. 
Their righteousness shines on all people; 
    their good works endure forever.
from A Book of Psalms: Selections Adapted from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell

Poetry: from Rumi

Your acts of kindness
are iridescent wings
of divine love
which linger and continue
to uplift others
long after your sharing.


Music:  Beatus Vir – Antonio Vivaldi

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum,
In mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Blessed the man who fears the Lord,
in his commandments he delights greatly.

Psalm 119:Acrostic Prayer

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 26, 2020


Today, in Mercy, we pray with young Solomon, as God asks him to carry the weight of leadership. Of all that Solomon might have asked from God, he requested only wisdom, which is described in James 3:17. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, teachable, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” We pray for wisdom for ourselves in the discharge of our responsibilities. We pray for this gift for all who hold power in our world.

from 2017 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, the longest psalm, and a meticulously constructed poem. It is one of about twelve acrostic poems in the Bible, employing the twenty-two characters of the Hebrew alphabet to teach a lesson about love of the Torah, the Law.

Acrostic poems have been popular throughout history because they let the reader examine a theme from multiple, memorable perspectives. Although often tricky to compose, they are simple to read, and sometimes so commonplace as to be transparent.

Here is an example of an acrostic poem from 19th century America


So why did the psalmist take the trouble to compose a complicated verse like Psalm 119? The answer seems apparent, I think. The love of the Law was that important to the writer. It was the one true treasure, and he wanted others to share the treasure.

The theme of “treasure” ties together all of our Sunday readings.

In our first reading, young Solomon could have asked God for anything. But Solomon already treasures the Wisdom of God:

The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him:
“Because you have asked for this—
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches,
nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right—
I do as you requested.


Our second reading confirms that those who love God, like Solomon did, are blessed with the treasure of confidence and peace:

We know that all things work for good
for those who love God.


Matthew’s Gospel tells us to seek that treasure buried in the field of our lives. When we find it, we should give everything to make it our own:

When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.


Praying Psalm 119 allows us to appreciate the treasure of God’s Law, God’s heartbeat, in our lives. It holds the Word up before us, facet by facet, the way we would lift a diamond to the Light. When we come to love Wisdom/Word/Law as Solomon did, we give everything to possess it fully.


Poetry: Last Hike Before Leaving Montana by Patricia Traxler.
In this poem, the poet is ostensibly talking about a bear, but listen a little deeper and she is talking about God.

Late winter, almost spring. It's like finding a diamond;
now I don't want to leave. I sit in the dirt and put my hands
in your tracks. For the first time in a long time I don't
doubt. Now I know I always knew you were here. You
are the beginning of disclosure, the long-felt presence

Suddenly incarnate. Behind me my friend warns, If we
see the bear, get into a fetal position. No problem,
I tell her, I'm always in a fetal position—I was born
in a fetal position. Did you know, she says, the body
of a shaved bear looks exactly like a human man?
I skip a stone, feel a sudden bloat of grief, then laugh.
I ask her, Who would shave a bear? We climb

Farther up Rattlesnake Creek, watch winter sun glitter
off dark water. No matter how high we go I look higher.
Sometimes absence can prove presence. That's not exactly
faith, I know. All day, everywhere, I feel you near at hand.
There's so much to understand, and everything to prove.
Up high the air is thin and hard, roars in the ears like love.

Music: Lord, You Are More Precious Than Silver – Divine Hymns

Psalm 63 A Passionate Prayer

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen

July 22, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 63, a perfect prayer for the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, who longed for and loved God with all her heart.

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Psalm 63, in the verses quoted today, is a love song. The psalmist longs for God, body and soul. Experience has taught her that without God her whole being is a desert.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

And so she fixes her eyes on God, her heart on God. She looks for God’s Presence in the sanctuary of her life, in the temple of her soul.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.

The psalmist promises to bless God – to be grateful and attentive to God’s affectionate grace in all the circumstances of her life:

Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

In her serene and confident prayer, she is like the fragile hatchling, protected under her Divine Mother’s wing. She clings to God’s merciful hand, no doubt kissing it in a prayer of grateful love.

You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.


Poetry: The Living Flame Of Love – St. John of the Cross
Some find John of the Cross’s poetry challenging, if not shocking because, as well as being deeply mystical, it is often clearly erotic. But we are both mystical and erotic human beings made so by God in Whom Love has infinite dimensions. John channeled all his mystical erotic power into his profound love for God. His poems may help us to open that holy power to God as well.

Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.

O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now consummate! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life. 

O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.

How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

Music:  Living Flame of Love – John Michael Talbot

Oh, Living Flame of Love
Tenderly wound my soul
To its deepest inner heart
Without oppression!

Come consumate our love
Tear through the veil of our union
If it be your will, come and rend
The veil of the temple!

Oh, lamps of fire
In deep caverns of feeling
Once obscured and blind
Are now leading
In the warmth and the passion
Of your love
(x2)

Yet gently Your hand does wound
As You rend through the veil of my temple
Come and take this life that I give
So that I might come to live in this our dying

Oh, Living Flame of Love
Tenderly wound my soul
To its deepest inner heart
Without oppression!

Psalm 95: The Real Voice

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 20, 2020

From this liturgical date in 2016:  

Monday, July 18, 2016: Today, in Mercy, we pray to do as the prophet Micah says. As our intense political season begins, we pray that our leaders – and we citizens – may do right, show real goodness, and find the courage to be humble. May we have the insight to shun a democracy built on values opposite to these. May God bless and inspire all who would lead us and may God bless and heal our country.


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we will pray with Psalm 95, our Alleluia Verse. Today’s Responsorial is Psalm 50, which we have reflected on twice recently.

The verse from Psalm 95 is an often repeated one, and presents us with a clear ultimatum:

But how do we do that?
How do we hear God’s voice?
How do we avoid a hardened heart?


When I was a little girl, I loved to read the stories of the saints. I was particularly impressed by the life of the brave St. Joan of Arc, not only because she got to ride a horse, but because she heard heavenly voices. I thought it was very nice of God to tell Joan exactly what to do to be holy.

I waited a few years, probably from age six to nine, for God – or at least St. Michael, my parish patron – to speak to me. You know, just in case God had anything important for me to do, like take a small army over to New Jersey or something like that.

When I was 9 or 10, I fell in love with Jimmy Danvers and put my saint books in my bottom drawer. I still listened for God, but started not to expect an audible conversation.


What I failed to realize at that young age was that the conversation had already begun. I thought about God, prayed and tried to be a pretty good person. I went to Mass every day since 5th grade. I began to serve others in the way I thought Jesus would want to do it. With the help of my parents and teachers, I had made the choice to invite God’s heart into my heart.

Finally, I came to understand that God was speaking to me, and to everyone else, all the time. My job was to keep my heart’s ear open, softened, by my choices for Love.


Prayer is the communication of the soul with God. 
God is love, and love is goodness giving itself away. 
It is a fullness of being 
that does not want to remain enclosed in itself, 
but rather to share itself with others.

Saint Edith Stein

When we do this, each day brings us deeper and deeper into the Silent Word Who breathes forth the story of our lives. That sacred breath takes as many forms as there are creatures. Joan of Arc was one holy form. So am I. So are you.


Literature:  from Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw

Charles VII:  Oh, your voices, your voices. Why don’t the voices come to me? I am king, not you!

Joan: They do come to you, but you do not hear them. You have not sat in the field in the evening listening for them. When the angelus rings, you cross yourself and have done with it. But if you prayed from your heart and listened to the thrilling of the bells in the air after they stopped ringing, you would hear the voices as well as I do.


Music: Holy Ground – John Michael Talbot

Verse 1
This is holy ground
We’re standing on holy ground
For the Lord is present
And where He is is holy
This is holy ground
We’re standing on holy ground
For the Lord is present
And where He is is holy

Verse 2
These are holy hands
He’s given us holy hands
He works through these hands
And so these hands are holy
These are holy hands
He’s given us holy hands
He works through these hands
And so these hands are holy

Verse 3
These are holy lips
He’s given us holy lips
He speaks through these lips
And so these lips are holy
These are holy lips
He’s given us holy lips
He speaks through these lips
And so these lips are holy

Psalm 19: God’s Perfect Law

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 2, 2020


Previous Prayer on Today’s Readings
June 30, 2016: Today, in Mercy, we pray in praise of God’s laws which hold the sun and moon in place, and make night and day turn softly into each other. We pray to love God’s law in our own hearts, respecting life in all its stages and expressions. May we see our own life as a marvelous manifestation of God’s divine balance, and may we so honor its risings and settings.


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19. The entire psalm opens with a familiar hymn to the Beauty of God’s Creation. and closes with a meditation on the beauty of God’s Law. Today’s verses focus on the psalm’s second half, lauding God’s flawless law. 

In both cadence and meaning, Psalm 19 is a song of balance. It dances back and forth between the immutable elegance of God’s Law and the perfection it offers to those who pursue it.

The concept of “law” might not immediately engender spiritual enthusiasm in our hearts. In our modern culture, the word “law” has become removed from the biblical sense of “justice”. 

In modern parlance, “law” is a set proclamations we may or may not agree with. The validity of this “law” depends on the morality of those who make it.

But law and justice in scripture are meant to be reflections of God’s perfection . They are the means to attaining right-balance in our lives, and in all Creation, according the God’s desire for us.

In fact, living a true biblical dimension of law and justice may require us, at times, to live outside a cultural sense of these words.  This happens when we protest “unjust laws” – a phrase whose seeming contradiction shows us just how difficult living justly might be.



How do we stay sharply and accurately aware of those contradictions so that we may discern a life of true Godly justice and right-balance in a culture that has become confused and calloused?

Psalm 19 is a good guide. Trusting its advice, we will find the virtues that lead to joy and peace.

Any “law” which does not lead to these blessings needs to be examined in the light of this beautiful psalm.


Poetry: God’s Grandeur– In Gerard Manley Hopkins’s exquisite poem, we see the magnificence of nature juxtaposed with human fragility.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.


And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Music: More Precious Than Gold – Acappella


They are more precious than gold 
Sweeter than the honey 
They are more precious than gold 
And the honey comb 

The laws of the Lord are perfect 
Reviving the soul, reviving the soul 
Reviving the soul 

They are more precious than gold 
Sweeter than the honey 
They are more precious than gold 
And the honey comb 

They make wise the simple 
They give joy to the heart 
Light to the eyes 
Enduring forever 
Righteous altogether 
They bring great reward 

The laws of the Lord are perfect 
Reviving the soul, reviving the soul 
Reviving the soul 

May the words of my mouth 
And the meditation of my heart 
Be pleasing in your sight 
O Lord my rock 
My rock and my redeemer 
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer 

The laws of the Lord are perfect 
Reviving the soul, reviving the soul 
Reviving the soul 
They are more precious than gold Sweeter than the honey 
They are more precious than gold 
And the honey comb