Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 21, 2022

Jn15:18 world

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus talks about “the world”.

That word can cause a little confusion, both as we find it in scripture and in the history of Christian thought.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology says five connotations for “world” may be found in scripture:

  • The physical world – the actual plant Earth
  • The human world – the land and seas we can navigate
  • The moral world – the universe of good and evil
  • The temporal world – the world that will someday end
  • The coming world – eternal existence 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about the moral world which, in the New Testament, refers to those people who are indifferent and hostile to Christ’s teaching.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world…
the world hates you.

John 15:18

wolf-clipart-57
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

We understand this use of the word. We see the evil in the world. We are saddened, angered and confounded by it when we recognize it.

But do we always recognize it?

Blatant evils like mass shootings and racial violence are readily recognized. But how do we sincerely act to confrontt and eradicate these evils?

And still, the most insidious evils are those that masquerade as good.

These masquerading evils often pretend to protect our rights, our security, our safety. But they usually do so at the expense of someone else’s rights – the poor, the refugee, the aged, the homeless, people of color……and all who have become “disposable” or invisible in our society.


These deceptions hide behind brave and noble words like “America First”, “Second Amendment Rights”, “Protect Life” and a rash of other slogans which fail to examine the whole impact of single-issue politics. 

It’s confusing because we love America, right? We believe in people’s constitutional rights, right? We respect life, right?

What if our slogans instead more clearly reflected Gospel values:

  • The Human Family First
  • Safety Rights for Everyone
  • Health Security for All Life – Womb to Tomb

How can we be spiritually discerning about what is good within such realities and what is rooted in sinful self-interest? Jesus tells us in these words:

Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

John 15:18-20

We must look to the one who is hated and persecuted to find the Face of Christ. We must love that Face and learn its heartaches. We must become a companion in their search for wholeness. We must set aside any costume of self-righteousness and put on the garment of Mercy.


from Scripture: I think this passage, as well as divine inspiration, is pure poetry!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14-16


Music: The Mercy Song – Paul Alexander

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 9, 2022

Click here for readings

800px-Domenico_Fetti_-_Peter's_vision_of_a_sheet_with_animals_-_Kunsthistorisches_Museum_Wien
Peter’s Vision of the Sheet – By Domenico Fetti – Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Bilddatenbank., Public Domain

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have the long story and explanation by Peter about who can be welcomed into the Community.

The earliest Christians were all Jews. Their beginning Christian rituals had deep roots in Jewish tradition. Their entire expectation of a Messiah was wrapped in the garment of the Old Testament. So it was hard for them to comprehend that Gentiles might also be saved by the Blood of Christ.

We might be tempted to consider these Jewish Christians very provincial, parochial, or even prejudiced in their closed attitudes. But maybe we should just look in the mirror!

It seems to be an enduring human inclination that, rather than – like Peter – seek a road to inclusion, we claim privilege for ourselves and exclude others on all kinds of bases:

  • She’s a woman, so she can’t…. whatever…
  • He’s gay, so he can’t …
  • She’s divorced, so she can’t…
  • He’s pro-life, or pro-choice, so he can’t…
  • She’s a Muslim, an atheist, and (irony of ironies) a Jew, so she can’t…
  • He’s too young – She’s too old – so they can’t …

Maybe in your own life, you have felt the pain of some of these suggested or blatant exclusions.


Jn10_4 Mine

Jesus, in our Gospel, has a whole different approach to whom he loves. All creatures belong to him and will be brought to the Father in love.

I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.


Let us pray today to know and love our God ever more intensely. Let us ask to experience God’s infinite love and knowledge of us so that our unquenchable joy, humble gratitude, and limitless charity grow more evident.

Let us pray these gifts for all our sisters and brothers, no matter by what gate they come to the sheep fold.


Quote: I couldn’t find the original source, but it is a quote common in Eastern Spirituality:

We are all One.
There is no Other.


Music: They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

This is an interesting rendering of an old hymn. Kind of touched my heart.

David Falls Down

January 28, 2022
Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we clearly are being taught. The first lesson comes from a gripping iconic story in Samuel – the treacherous murder of Uriah; the second from the Markan Parables – the miraculous mustard seed.

In our first reading, the noble, kingly David takes a mighty fall. He has tripped over his own power and descended into a chasm of indifference, lust, manipulation, deceit, and murder. Walter Brueggemann captures the immensity of the story here:

II Samuel 11:1–27 
We are now at the pivotal turning point in the narrative plot of the books of Samuel. We are also invited into the presence of delicate, subtle art. We are at the threshold of deep, aching psychology, and at the same time we are about to witness a most ruthless political performance. In this narrative we are in the presence of greatness. For David and for Israel, we are at a moment of no return. Innocence is never to be retrieved. From now on the life of David is marked, and all Israel must live with that mark.

David handing over a letter to Uriah, 1619 – Pieter Lastman

Unfortunately, David’s moral depravity is reshaped and retold in thousands of other biographies throughout history as “strongmen” (and women) grasp power. Too bad David, and those like him, could not have benefitted from some later-age wisdom such as these two quotables:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
~ John Dalberg-Acton, letter to Bishop Mandela Creighton, (April 1887)


One uncontrolled character flaw can ruin your greatest accomplishment.
~ Wayde Goodall, Why Great Men Fall: 15 Winning Strategies to Rise Above It All (2005)


While David’s sinfulness had corrupted the concept of “kingdom”, in Mark, Jesus teaches us a divinely refreshed understanding of the term.

When asked what the kingdom of heaven is like, Jesus describes generous, inclusive reality sprung from humble, hopeful investment:

To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.

Mark 4: 30-32

Perhaps our prayer today is best reflected in the Alleluia Verse – a plea to retain, in our choices, the deep innocence of faith:

Blessed are you, Creator, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Matthew 11:25

Praying with that this morning, I offer you the innocent drawing of my 6 year-old grand-nephew Robert, an interpretation of what it means to fall down.

Something Falling Down, as titled by the Artist

Poetry: When the Great Trees Fall – Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Music: All the King’s Horses – Aretha Franklin
Although the song is not biblical, the lyrics carry similar emotions to the ones we find in the reading from Samuel.

Sing Mercy in the Sadness

December 7, 2021
Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Memorial of St. Ambrose

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are blessed, once again, with magnificent readings!

Our psalm coaches us to rejoice and sing – a song that will heal the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
    sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless the LORD’s name;
    announce God’s salvation, day after day.

Psalm 96:1-2

Our first reading is the exquisite “Comfort” passage from Isaiah. And our Gospel gives us Jesus tenderly seeking the single lost lamb.

The first and last words of these two readings – COMFORT, LOST – capture the whole intent of today’s message:


Life is a maze whose walls are heightened
by our incivility to one another.
Isaiah calls us to be a leveler of walls,
a straightener of twists, a bridge over deadly valleys.
Jesus calls us to seek and carry the lost sheep.
We are called to be Mercy in a suffering world.


These beautiful and challenging readings come to us this year at a time when Pope Francis has offered a clear and similar challenge to the world. Last week, during his visit to the refugee encampment on the Greek island of Lesbos, Francis voiced his profound pain at the international immigration tragedy:

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum),” the Pope concluded.  “Let us not allow this place of encounter to become a theatre of conflict.  Let us not permit this “sea of memories” to be transformed into a “sea of forgetfulness”.  Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization.”

“It is an illusion to think it is enough to keep ourselves safe, to defend ourselves from those in greater need who knock at our door”, Pope Francis said.  “In the future, we will have more and more contact with others.  To turn it to the good, what is needed are not unilateral actions but wide-ranging policies.  History teaches this lesson, yet we have not learned it.” 

Source for quotes: Vatican News – vaticannews.va

During his address, the Pope asked every man and woman, “to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes.” 


Resource: To learn about and reflect on the issue of immigration, here is a link to NETWORK. Founded by Catholic Sisters in the progressive spirit of Vatican II, NETWORK works to create a society that promotes justice and the dignity of all in the shared abundance of God’s creation.


Music: Comfort Ye from Handel’s Messiah – sung by Jerry Hadley

As we pray this glorious music today, let us ask for the strength and courage to be Mercy for the world, to find the ways to comfort God’s people, close by and at life’s borders.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings capture the essence of life in God through Christ.

The first reading from Kings tells how Elijah, after eating the food God had provided him, was able to endure the long journey to God’s mountain. There, the sweetest whisper carried to Elijah the voice of God!


In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus makes clear that no one makes that journey into the heart of God unless God calls us. But Jesus says that the invitation is given to all who believe. He says that, just as with Elijah, the Father gives us food – Jesus himself – the bread of life.


The second reading from Ephesians says that we have already “been sealed for the day of redemption through the Holy Spirit.” Paul says that, given this amazing gift, we have only one job:

So be imitators of God, as beloved children,
and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

We are so accustomed to hearing these astounding passages that we may miss how astounding they really are. But Macrina Wiederkehr says:

When Jesus’ words begin to sound naive
to our 21st century minds,
let us look through the words,
in between the words,
underneath for a deeper truth.

Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the great Jesuit mystical theologian, upon reading these passages, saw the mystery of the Body of Christ. He saw our call to be the heart of Christ in the world. He saw Christ’s promise to become one with us in Eucharist. He saw that, through this Infinite Love played out in our ordinary lives, God continues to redeem Creation.

In each soul,
God loves and partly saves
the whole world which that soul sums up
in an incommunicable and particular way.

The Divine Milieu

Poetry: Love after Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come when with elation
you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here, eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self

Give wine, give bread.
Give back your heart to itself,
to the stranger who has loved you all your life
whom you ignored for another
who knows you by heart

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Music: Quintessence – Spencer Brewer

May this lovely instrumental piece help take us to a deeply prayerful place as we contemplate God’s gift in Jesus.

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 67 which calls on God to bless all people.

O God, be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of your countenance and come to us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
   among all nations, your salvation.

Psalm 67: 1-2

This psalm is notable for its inclusiveness of nations outside of Israel. Most psalms focus inwardly on Israel’s needs, hopes and memories. But Psalm 67 calls on God to gather and bless universally:

May the nations be glad and exult
    because you rule the peoples in equity;
    the nations on the earth you guide.


For this reason, Psalm 67 has been called “the missionary psalm”, and is such a fitting prayer on this feast of St. Ignatius who founded a community which has carried the faith throughout the world.


As we pray our psalm today, we might examine how our own faith reaches out, includes and blesses others.  

Our final verses today point back to our first reading from Leviticus. While the math and calendar counting could get me pretty mixed up, the message is clear. It is a Jubilee message:

  • Stop. 
  • Take a good look at your life and the harvest of your years. 
  • Be grateful.
  • Be just.
  • Share. 
  • Bring others into your bounty because it all belongs to God, not you.

When we do these things, Psalm 67 becomes our prayer:

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, 
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has brought forth its increase; 
may you, O God our God, bless us.
May you bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of you.


Poetry: This Is My Song by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

Music: Finlandia, Opus 26

The above poem is sung to the tune of the final hymn in this work by Jean Sibelius. I think you will enjoy this beautiful video, especially the young ducks about midway through. Be sure to click the little arrowhead under the right side of the video to read the great history of this musical composition.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, an exuberant celebration of God’s predilection and fidelity toward Israel. But at the same time, it is a call to recognize God’s love for ALL Creation:

The LORD has made his victory known;
has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations

Psalm 98;2

If we read the whole psalm, we might imagine all Creation assembled like a magnificent choir and orchestra – something like a supersized Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As the psalm progresses, the choirmaster-psalmist incorporates successive components into an awakened awareness until there is one universal melody of praise.


First, in a theme we met recently, the call to a NEW song:

Sing a new song to the LORD,
who has done marvelous deeds…
..remembering mercy and faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

Psalm 98: 1-3

Next, the vocals and the instruments 

Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth;
break into song; sing praise.
Sing praise to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
shout with joy to the King, the LORD.

Psalm 98: 4-6

Then nature’s  “orchestra”

Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and all who dwell in it!

And even the suggestion of tambourine dancers along the river’s edge

Let the rivers clap their hands
the mountains shout with them for joy,
before the LORD who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness.

Psalm 98: 8-9

This inclusive psalm serves our other readings so well. The early Church in Acts has folded the Gentiles into the chorus.

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”

Acts 10: 34-35

And Jesus gives us the underlying truth that, in his Love, we are ALL part of this cosmic symphony:

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.

This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.

Poetry: Shoulders – Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.
No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.
This man carries the world's most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.
His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.
We're not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.
The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

Music: OK – it’s not the Mormon Tabernacle 😀 but it captures the spirit for me! I hope it puts you in the rhythm too, beloveds!

Psalm 34: Together

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

February 23, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, thought to be a young David’s thanksgiving prayer after God saved him from one of his many dangerous escapades.

In telling his deliverance story, David invites his friends to celebrate with him and to learn the faith-lesson he has learned:

Glorify the LORD with me,
    let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears. 


I picture myself sitting in David’s audience, absorbing the words of his prayer. This line strikes me:

The LORD has eyes for the just,
    and ears for their cry.

Ah, the Lord has eyes for me….for ME! It conjures up sounds of The Flamingos, doesn’t it? (Sorry for the transcriber’s misspelling 😀)

Most of us want to think that we are individually special to God. This desire is at the core of the Protestant Evangelical model, “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. But for some, this model has become confused with a prosperity gospel that is quite misleading.

The only prosperity we should seek from God is the gift of grace because:

Yahweh’s peculiar inclinations are with the broken-hearted and the ones with crushed spirit. That is, Yahweh’s solidarity is not with the ones who go from success to success, but the ones denied success.

Walter Brueggemann The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary Ausberg Publishing House 1984

Still, such a personal relationship is not alien to a full and complete faith:

Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us.

Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 2009

(Look for an extra prayer about “The Eye of God” in another post today.)


However, our psalm alerts us that this deeply personal dimension is only part of relationship with God.

When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
    and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
   and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.

To be seen and heard by God, one must be part of the just community. To be close to God, one must feel the brokenheartedness of the poor. We come to the psalmist’s exuberant praise only by walking with suffering, either in our own lives, or beside others who bear distress.

From all their distress
God rescues the just.

Psalm 34 teaches us that our personal relationship with God is interdependent with our relationship with the whole community. David calls his community to share in his praise-song because they- together -recognize God’s mercy and share it in concern for one another.

The LORD has eyes for the just,
    and ears for their cry.


Our Gospel today confirms that a personal love for God thrives only within a communal love. The prayer Jesus shares is not “My Father”. It is “Our Father”. We come to the depths of God’s merciful heart with our sisters and brothers.


Poetry: An Inclusive Lord’s Prayer – Author unknown

Loving God, 
in whom is heaven, 
may Your name be honored everywhere.
May Your Mercy reign.
May the desire of Your heart for the world 
be done, 
in us, by us and through us.
Give us each and all
the bread we need for the day.
Forgive us.
Free us to forgive others.
Keep us from all anxiety, fear, and selfishness.
For You reign in the power that comes from love 
which is Your glory
forever and ever.
Amen.

Music: Our Father – Joe Wise

Psalm 96: There Are No Others

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops

January 26, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, a call to witness God’s sovereignty over and faithfulness to the whole world.

The tone of Psalm 96 is slightly different from some other psalms which call for national rejoicing. It does not suggest that God loves Israel better than other nations, therefore taking their side in history. Psalm 96 simply encourages gratitude for and witness to God’s saving power:

Sing to the LORD a new song;
    sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
    among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

Psalm 96: 1-3

Like Israel, we walk a fine line in discerning how God loves us, both individually and as a member of the many “tribes” with which we align ourselves. Does God love Americans more? Or white people? Or Black people? Or Italians? Or the Irish? Or straight people? Or Christians? Or the wealthy? Or Phillies fans? (Well, yeah, probably Phillies fans 🙂 )


Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) was an Indian Hindu sage. He is regarded by many as an outstanding enlightened being. He was a charismatic person, and attracted many devotees,
some of whom saw him as an avatar and the embodiment of Shiva.

He was once asked,
“How should we treat others?”
He replied,
“There are no others.”


It seems that we have some innate need to compare ourselves favorably against “others”. That need, unchecked and fed by fear, is at the root of any oppressive nationalism, such as the white Christian nationalism we saw displayed in the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision in Minneapolis, writes this:
” We must always reject any attempt to fuse together one’s national/political identity with one’s Christian identity in a way that equates or conflates allegiance to country with allegiance to God.”


In an excellent article from Sojourners, Walter Brueggemann elucidates the prophet’s role in contradicting the forces that enshrine the totalism which leads to idolatries like distorted nationalism.
(totalism: the practice of a dictatorial one-party state that regulates every form of life such as that which existed under King Solomon in ancient Israel)


Psalm 96 gives us another view of what really made Israel “chosen” – their example to all nations to praise our shared Creator as the Source of all stability and equity.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
    give to the LORD glory and praise;
    give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
Who made the world firm, not to be moved;
    who governs the peoples with equity.

Psalm 96: 7-8

Poetry: For Whom the Bell Tolls – John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Music: Imagine – John Lennon

Psalm 85: Be A Neighbor

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

“A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer.”

Evangelium vitae, 100

January 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 85, a Psalm we have prayed with seven times in the past six months. 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 possibleand even insists uponan 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 giftsmercy, 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)

Praying with Psalm 85, we might hear echos of President Biden’s Inaugural Address which called on our capacity for “neighborliness”:

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.
We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.
We can treat each other with dignity and respect.
We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.
For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.
No progress, only exhausting outrage.
No nation, only a state of chaos.


The President also said this:

Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, the saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.
What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans?
I think I know.
Opportunity.
Security.
Liberty.
Dignity.
Respect.
Honor.
And, yes, the truth.


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: Here is the quote from St. Augustine referenced by President Biden, 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❤️