Psalm 23: Awake to the Feast

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

December 2, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 23. On this first Wednesday of Advent, our psalm is set between two eloquent readings about the full satisfaction of our soul’s hungers.

Isaiah blesses us with his metaphor for Heaven’s abundance, when our souls will be filled to a divine capacity of grace.

In a world already redeemed, Isaiah’s vision has been fulfilled. We live our lives already seated at the banquet he describes.

But do we realize it? Do we partake every moment in the outpouring of grace given us by our Baptism into Christ?

Unaware, many of us sit at the table starving.

In our Gospel, Jesus sees the deeper hungers of the fatigued crowd. His miracle feeds their bodies but, more importantly, awakens their souls to see him as the fulfillment of God’s promise. Isaiah’s prophecy is accomplished in Jesus:

On that day it will be said:
Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Isaiah 26:9-10

As we read Psalm 23 today, let’s allow its consoling verses to become our prayer of trust and gratitude for God’s “already presence” in our lives. Like the crowd awakened by Jesus’s miracle, let us open our eyes to the infinite grace spread before us, though wrapped sometimes in the mundane circumstances of our lives.


Poetry: Joy Harjo – Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Music: Psalm 23 – Stuart Townend

Psalm 19: God’s Two Great Books

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

November 30, 2020


My niece Maureen took this picture at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19 which, according to the famous Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, is “the study of God’s two great books—nature and Scripture”.

The verses chosen for today’s Responsorial focus on the Law as we receive it in the words of Scripture.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

Psalm 19:8

St. Andrew, whose feast we celebrate today, was a simple fisherman made wise by the Living Word of God. He received the Gospel as it was first uttered in the life and preaching of his dear friend Jesus.

DUCCIO DI BUONINSEGNA
The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, 1308-1311

Andrew decided to retell that precious Word in his own life and preaching.

He joyfully accepted the call to radical discipleship, allowing his inner vision to be enlightened by the Christ’s vision for the world.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.

Psalm 19: 9

Andrew’s whole life and death gave witness to his total investment in God’s Word. That apostolic commitment sweetened not only Andrew’s life, but the life of the whole faith community to whom he transmitted the Living Word… including us.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.

Psalm 19: 10;11

Let’s pray this Psalm today
with a simplicity and faith like Andrew’s.


Prayer: from daily-prayers.org

O Glorious St. Andrew,
you were the first to recognize and follow the Son of God.
With your friend, St. John,
you remained with Jesus,
for your entire life,
and now throughout eternity.
Just as you led your brother, St Peter,
to Christ and many others after him,
draw us also to Him.
Teach us how to lead them,
solely out of love for Jesus
and dedication to His service.
Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross
and carry our daily crosses without complaint,
so that they may carry us to God the Almighty Father. Amen.

Music: from Bach – Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76

 Chor

Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, 

und die Feste verkündiget seiner Hände Werk. 

Es ist keine Sprache noch Rede, 

da man nicht ihre Stimme höre.

(Psalm 19:2,4)

Chorus

The heavens declare the glory of God, 

and the firmament shows His handiwork. 

There is no speech or language, 

since one does not hear their voices.

We Shall Behold God

November 22, 2020

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate The Solemnity of Christ the King.

For some, the lofty, politically-tinged title might obscure the rich devotion offered by this feast. The title “king” carries with it suggestions of exaggerated power, wealth and dominance not compatible with our Gospel perception of Jesus.

We may be more comfortable with images of Christ as infant, brother, shepherd, lamb, vine, gate, way, truth, life…

But what all these images point out is that our ability to comprehend the fullness of Christ is severely limited by our humanity. We usually choose a specific image based on our circumstances and spiritual needs.

Pope Pius XI promoted the concept of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical Quas Primas, in response to growing international secularism and nationalism. His intent was not to compare Christ to the challenged world leaders of the time. It was to raise the perceptions of all people to the lessons of Divine Leadership: mercy, justice, inclusivity, and peace.

Oh, how we could benefit from the same understanding today! 

In this age with its culture of continual war, the human pain it causes, refugee crises, climate devastation, wealth distortion and indifference to the poor, how our hearts long for just, wise and loving leadership!

In his encyclical, Pius XI wrote:

Christ the King reigns “in the human hearts,” both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all humanity. He reigns, too, in our wills, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his “charity which exceedeth all knowledge.”

— Quas primas, §7[4]

Let’s pray for these virtues for all who are charged with any form of power or leadership:

  • keen spiritual intellect
  • deep heart’s knowledge
  • uncompromising truth
  • obedience to grace
  • holy inspiration 
  • noble character
  • and surpassing charity for all Creation

May Christ the King truly live and reign among us. May we behold the “sweet light in His eyes”!

Music: We Shall Behold Him – offered in American Sign Language by Kayla Seymour; sung by Sandi Patty

Psalm 15: Camping with the Beloved

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

November 17, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 15 which often is called an ‘entrance liturgy’, where a worshipper asks the conditions of entering the worship place and a priest answers.

The psalm’s first line, not included in today’s verses, asks that question of the Lord:

LORD, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?

Psalm 15:1

Reading this line immediately reminded me of Jesus’s first encounter with his chosen twelve. Upon meeting Jesus, and obviously struck with his unique charisma, the disciples ask, “Lord, where do you live?”. They want to be with him, to learn about him. We do too.


It’s a gift to be invited to someone’s home – to see where and how they live, to share their dailyness. It is a first portal to the intimacy of friendship, a gift beyond price when it proves mutual and true.

In today’s Gospel, in a sort of reverse proposal, Jesus invites himself to dinner at Zaccheus’s home. Throughout all the Gospels, we often see Jesus inviting and accepting invitations which prove to be conversions and calls for his followers.

by Plautilla Nelli, an Italian nun who is said to have taught herself to paint in the 16th century. This is a section of her “Last Supper,” painted around 1568, and now newly installed in the old refectory of the Santa Maria Novella Museum. Of course, it shows Jesus with the “beloved” disciple.

In the reading from Revelation, the invitation takes an apocalyptic and corrective tone, but its heart is the same. In essence, God invites us to an intimacy of which we are capable only under certain conditions, i.e. “if you hear my voice“:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If you hear my voice and open the door,
then I will enter and dine with you,
and you with me.
I will give the victor the right 
to sit with me on my throne,
as I myself first won the victory
and sit with my Father on his throne.


Today’s segment from Psalm 15 tells us what some of those conditions look like. It says to be someone who:

  • walks blamelessly and does justice 
  • thinks the truth in your heart
  • slanders not with your tongue.
  • harms not your fellow human beings,
  • takes up no reproach against your neighbor
  • despises not the reprobate
  • honors those who fear the LORD
  • lends not your money at usury
  • accepts no bribe against the innocent

Our challenge from the psalm is to meditate on that list to see what such behavior looks like in modern terms. Beneath the psalmist’s ancient language, we might discover our attitudes and examine our conscience toward issues like:

  • criminal justice
  • capital punishment
  • war
  • poverty
  • immigration policy
  • refugee resettlement
  • propagandist media
  • economic equity
  • felon rehabilitation
  • respect for other religions
  • political oppression
  •  – just to suggest a few.

Psalm 15 tells us, and our other readings affirm, that the one who gets these things right not only gets invited, but gets to remain in God’s house, God’s “tent”.

The one who does these things
shall never be disturbed.

I know that’s Who I want to go eternally camping with! How about you?


Poem: Rainer Maria Rilke, Poems from the Book of Hours

You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.
Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.

Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.

They stand before you hiding you like names.
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ

Psalm 112: Don’t Worry; Be Happy

Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

November 7, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray again with Psalm 112, placed between two interestingly complementary readings.

Psalm 112 is basically a guide to what constitutes a happy life. The psalm tells us this:

Blessed and happy  is the one:

  • who fears the LORD,
  • who greatly delights in God’s commands.
  • who is gracious and lends
  • who conducts affairs with justice
  • who gives to the poor

The psalmist tells us that this kind of humble, grateful generosity is its own reward.

Such a person

  • shall have a posterity which is mighty upon the earth
  • shall never be moved;
  • shall be in everlasting remembrance
  • shall be steadfast; shall not fear.
  • shall be remembered for enduring generosity
  • shall have a “horn” exalted in glory. ( “horn” = strength and power)

If we translate the biblical language here, what is Psalm 112 telling us.

This. True happiness comes from:

  • loving God
  • living within the law of love
  • being just, merciful, and generous
  • taking care of the vulnerable

Such happiness looks like this:

  • others can look up to you, especially the young
  • you stay faithful to goodness and righteousness 
  • your faithfulness nourishes those who come after you
  • you are strong and courageous 
  • your generosity inspires generosity in others
  • you are respected and loved for your goodness, even long after you’re gone

These are the kind of people Paul is depending on in our first reading to keep his ministry afloat. It sounds like he didn’t find too many of them, except finally in his Philippian community! Actually, under his eloquence, I think Paul sounds a little ticked off!😉

Jesus was looking for this kind of people too, but he certainly didn’t find them in the Pharisees of today’s Gospel. And Jesus let’s them have it in a dose of their own medicine. 


What does Jesus, who “knows our hearts”, find when he looks at us? Let’s pray Psalm 112 today asking for the grace to grow in true, generous, faith so we can look back at Jesus with deep peace and HAPPINESS!


Poem: The Work of Happiness by May Sarton

I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.


Music: Psalm 112 – 4Him

We only get so many times
To ride around this sun
And so many times to see a full moon shine
When day is done if anything's worth doing
Then it's worth doing right

So I looked for wisdom on how to
Best live this brief life I have found
Blessed is he who fears the Lord
Who finds delight in His commands
Blessed is he who fears the Lord

Who finds delight in His commands
I guess that we all gamble on some
Truth to guide our days
And we trust that it will bring us joy and meaning
On the way

I've got friends who feel betrayed by all the things
They once believed
So with everything I've seen I've gotta say
It seems to me

Blessed is he who fears the Lord
Who finds delight in His commands
Blessed is he who fears the Lord
Who finds delight in His commands
Please hear this from a humble heart

But I feel like Exhibit A
In the evidence that God is good to those
Who live by faith, that's why I believe

Blessed is he who fears the Lord
Who finds delight in His commands
Blessed is he who fears the Lord
Who finds delight in His commands
He will not be shaken
He will have no fear
He will then remember

Those Sacred Shoulders

Thursday , November 5,2020

( Good morning, friends, as the world awaits the final result of the U.S. Presidential election. It is an unsettling morning for many of us, and a difficult one for me to create new inspiration! Maybe that’s because I slept so little!
Today, I find myself relying on some of my older reflections to bring myself a measure of equanimity. I was glad to see this one from two years ago. It comforted me as I hope it does you.)


Today, in Mercy, we meet the Shepherd bringing the lost lamb home.  Haven’t we all, at some time in our lives, been carried on those sacred shoulders?

Whether by our own prayers, or the prayers of those who love us, have we not been rescued from sorrow, foolishness, isolation or fear?

This beautiful Gospel assures us of the one thing we most deeply need – we are cherished, irrevocably, by God.

This morning, if we need to ride those shoulders, let us trust ourselves to them in prayer. 

If, by grace, we are already home, let us pray for those feeling most lost or abandoned – those most beset by a hostile world. May our merciful action help lift them to peace and the sweet scent of God so close beside them.


Poetry: from Kahlil Gibran

We live only to discover beauty.
All else is a form of waiting.


Music: I Will Carry You – Sean Clive

I will carry you when you are weak.
I will carry you when you can’t speak.
I will carry you when you can’t pray.
I will carry you each night and day.

I will carry you when times are hard.
I will carry you both near & far.
I’ll be there with you whenever you fall.
I will carry you through it all.

My arms are wider than the sky,
softer than a little child,
stronger than the raging,
calming like a gentle breeze.
Trust in me to hold on tight because 

I will carry you when you can’t stand.
I’ll be there for you to hold your hand.
And I will show you that you’re never alone.
I will carry you and bring you back home.

Not pain, not fear, not death, no nothing at all
can separate you from my love.
My arms and hands will hold you close.
Just reach out and take them in your own.
Trust in me to hold on tight.
I will carry you.

Isaiah the Poet

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 21, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Isaiah for our Responsorial Psalm.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
Who has been my savior.

Isaiah 12: 2-3

But how do we get to the degree of steadfast faith described here by Isaiah, a faith that is confident, unafraid, strong and courageous? Isaiah says it is like satisfying a deep thirst at a flowing fountain.


We all know how unpleasant it is to be thirsty, but what about really thirsty?

I’m a pretty big fan of old cowboy movies. A standard scene in many of these is the forlorn rider traversing a parched plain, longing for water.

by Stanley L. Wood

Now that’s “thirsty”! And that is the degree of longing Paul describes in today’s passage from Ephesians, a longing for that “water” that had been hidden through the ages:

To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known …


… the inscrutable riches of Christ…

This is the Fountain to which we are invited as we open ourselves through the Word of God in scripture, sacrament, and sacred circumstance of our lives.


Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!

Isaiah 12: 5-6

The “glorious achievement” proclaimed by Isaiah is the same “manifold wisdom” to which Paul says we all have access by faith:

… the manifold wisdom of God …
… accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

Ephesians 3: 10-12

In our Gospel, Jesus tells that this gift, this Fountain, once opened to us, demands our faithful response:

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

So as we drink deeply of this Fountain, let us pray for a grateful, responsive fidelity for the gift we have been given.


Poem: excerpt from “Water Sign Woman” by Lucille Clifton

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com
the woman who feels everything
sits in her new house
waiting for someone to come
who knows how to carry water
without spilling, who knows
why the desert is sprinkled
with salt, why tomorrow
is such a long and ominous word.

they say to the feel things woman
that little she dreams is possible,
that there is only so much
joy to go around, only so much
water. there are no questions
for this, no arguments. she has
to forget to remember the edge
of the sea, they say, to forget
how to swim to the edge, she has

to forget how to feel. the woman
who feels everything sits in her
new house retaining the secret
the desert knew when it walked
up from the ocean, the desert,

so beautiful in her eyes;
water will come again
if you can wait for it.
she feels what the desert feels.
she waits.

Music: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing written by Robert Robinson (1758) sung here by Fernando Ortega

Our Lady of the Rosary

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

October 7, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 117. Since it is also the Memorial of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, I’ll refer you to a previous post on Psalm 117.


For today, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, we may wish to focus on that venerable prayer which had its origins in the very early Church. In fact, those early versions of a rosary are connected to the Psalms:

Prayers with beads like the rosary may have begun as a practice by the laity to imitate the Christian monasticism of the Liturgy of the Hours during the course of which the monastics prayed the 150 Psalms daily. As many of the laity could not read, they substituted 150 repetitions of the Our Father for the Psalms, sometimes using a cord with knots on it to keep an accurate count.
(The Catholic Encyclopedia)


The shape of the rosary as we pray it today emerged more clearly in the 13th century as Marian devotion blossomed in the Church. The tendency of that devotion was to place Mary, and other saints, between us and God. They, having already gained heaven, were deemed to have intercessory power we lacked. So praying the rosary became an “asking prayer” rather than a meditation on the whole of Christ’s life. In many ways, our relationship with Mary also took on a sentimentalism which lessened her true and unique power as witness and companion in the Communion of Saints.


Theotokos of the Passion – 17th century

Today, Marian theology, as well as rosary devotion, looks to a clearer understanding of Mary’s role as participant in the continuing redemptive act of Jesus. Praying with her, in any form, is an opportunity to experience Jesus from her perspective and to apply that grace to our own life and world.

“Remembering Mary as a friend of God and prophet in the communion of saints, a woman who is truly sister to our strivings, allows the power of her life to play in the religious consciousness of the church, encouraging ever-deeper relationship with the living God in whom our spirits rejoice, and allying us with God’s redemptive designs for the hungry, the lowly, and all those who suffer, including in an unforgettable way women with their children in situations of poverty, prejudice, and violence.”

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ – Truly Our Sister

I try, as I pray the rosary, to imagine Mary within each particular mystery or circumstance of Christ’s life. What did she experience? How did she grow in grace? What is she guiding me toward in my relationship with God?

I also ask Mary to allow those graces and insights to bless and heal not only my life but the life of the world, particularly where there is great pain or suffering for women and children.


In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being
~ Denise Levertov
(Reading this poem, we may think of our prayer as a “breathing” enveloped in the Presence of God. The “holy ones”, like Mary, easily ride that breath of prayer. When we pray with them, as in the Rosary, they “rock” us into the silent rhythm of God.)

Photographer: Johannes Plenio
Birds afloat in air's current,
sacred breath?  No, not breath of God,
it seems, but God
the air enveloping the whole
globe of being.
It's we who breathe, in, out, in, in the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled -- but only the saints
take flight.  We cower
in cliff-crevice or edge out gingerly
on branches close to the nest.  The wind
marks the passage of holy ones riding
that ocean of air.  Slowly their wake
reaches us, rocks us.
But storms or still, 
numb or poised in attention,
we inhale, exhale, inhale,
encompassed, encompassed.

Music: Beneath Your Compassion (Sub Tuum Praesidium) performed here in Russian by the PaTRAM Institute Singers

The oldest known devotion to Mary can be found in the words of a hymn that is documented to have existed and been sung before the middle of the 3rd century. 

Beneath your compassion,
We take refuge, O Theotokos:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble;
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure, only blessed one.

Psalm 25: God’s Will?

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 27, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, set perfectly in the midst of a few readings that speak to us about, among other things , “the Father’s Will”.

I think there is no greater spiritual mystery than the meaning of  “God’s Will”, (and not wanting to show up Thomas Aquinas, I’ll resist explaining it here. 😂🧐)

But we’ve all heard attempts at explaining it, haven’t we, especially as it relates to suffering— as in:

  • everything that happens is God’s Will, so we must accept it
  • God wills our suffering to test us
  • if God wills that we suffer, He will give us the strength to endure it

I just don’t think so … not the God I love and Who loves me.

But these attempts to explain suffering are understandable because we want to rationalize the things we fear. Most of us, I think, struggle with the problem of evil and suffering in the world. We want to know what to do when, as Rabbi Kushner wrote, “… Bad Things Happen to Good People”.


Our first reading from Ezekiel shows us that even the ancient peoples met this struggle. The prophet seems to suggest that if you’re bad, you’ll suffer. If you repent, you won’t. Well, we all know that’s not quite the reality! But nice try, Ezekiel.

Our psalm gently leads to another way of facing suffering as the psalmist prays for wisdom, compassion and divine guidance. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself prayed like this as he confronted his impending suffering.


In our second reading, Paul places before us the example of Jesus who, in the face of suffering, was transformed by love:

Praying with these readings, each one of us must come to our own peace with the mystery of suffering. What we can be sure of is this: God’s Will is always for our wholeness and joy as so simply taught to us when we were little children:

God made me to know, love, and serve God, 
and to be happy with God in this world and forever.

Our Gospel tells us that such happiness comes through faith and loving service, through responding to “the Father’s Will”.  May we have the insight, the love and the courage!


Poetry: Of Being by Denise Levertov 

I know this happiness
is provisional:

       the looming presences—
       great suffering, great fear—

       withdraw only
       into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:

       this mystery:

Music: To You, O Lord (Psalm 25) Graham Kendrick

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