Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, using some of its earlier verses than yesterday’s.
Verses 1-15 tell the same story as 1 Chronicles 16:8–22: “a ‘canonical’ inventory of YHWH’s faithful, transformative actions.” (Brueggemann, From Whom No Secrets Are Hidden)
As the faith community recounts this inventory, again and again down through the ages, we are deepened and strengthened in our grateful love for God Who abides.
Today’s readings once again invite us to count our blessings, and to repeat the practice daily.
Doing so allows us to hear the music of God’s omnipotent love, swirling grace through every chord of our lives.
We are summoned to glory in that Loving Presence; our spirits dancing in thanksgiving.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke God’s name; make known among the nations God’s deeds. Sing to God, sing praise, proclaim all God’s wondrous deeds. Glory in God’s holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Look to the LORD’s strength; seek to serve God constantly.
Poetry: Forever Dance from D. Ladinsky, I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz
I am happy even before I have a reason. I am full of Light even before the sky Can greet the sun or the moon. Dear companions, We have been in love with God For so very, very long. What can Hafiz now do but Forever Dance.
Music: Dance of Innocents – Nawang Khechog and Peter Kater
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, one of the psalms which Walter Brueggemann characterizes as “lively remembering”.
These are psalms which gratefully inventory God’s generosity and faithfulness to Israel. The long list evokes holy surprise, gratitude, trust, and commitment in the believer’s heart.
Today’s verses pertain particularly to the wonderful story of Joseph cited in our first reading. But the entire psalm remembers a Divine Generosity covering generations.
Recall the wondrous deeds God has done, wonders and words of judgment,
You descendants of Abraham God’s servant, offspring of Jacob the chosen one!
Psalm 105: 5-6
Reading Psalm 105 always makes me remember a little blond kid from my long ago teaching days.
We regularly gathered our school community for a “Children’s Mass”, either on Sunday or some special occasion. Bobby, a very good reader for a third grader, had volunteered to deliver the Responsorial Psalm.
And he delivered, loud and clear:
Remember the “marbles” the Lord has done.
Four times, the school body of 500+ children obediently responded in kind, apparently visualizing the same “marbles” as Bobby did.
Did God care? No, I think God enjoyed it as much as we teachers did.
And as I remember the moment this morning, I can’t help considering how innocently garbled my own prayer must seem to God. Because honestly, how can we even imagine God, let alone find the words to speak the mysteries of our soul!
Glory in his holy name; let hearts that seek the LORD rejoice!
Seek out the LORD’s might; constantly seek God’s face.
Psalm 105: 3-4
So, praying our psalm today, we might want to hold up silently before God, who created the vastness of universe, all the tiny “marbles” in our hearts – those brilliant but impenetrable mysteries of love, hope, suffering, and joy which roll around in the deep universe of our lives.
Like the psalmist, we can unroll an inventory of God’s faithfulness to us which allows us to imagine a future full of hope – for ourselves and the generations to follow us.
Poetry: Ode to Marbles BY MAX MENDELSOHN
I love the sound of marbles
scattered on the worn wooden floor,
like children running away
in a game of hide-and-seek.
I love the sight of white marbles,
green marbles, black,
new marbles, old marbles,
with glass-ribboned swirls,
dancing round and round.
I love the feel of marbles,
rolling freely in my palm,
like smooth-sided stars
that light up the worn world.
Music: Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers – synchronized with MARBLES! By DoodleChaos
Allow this video to open up your amazement. Invite into that amazement your gratitude for God’s astounding goodness to you. Perhaps like prayerfully walking a labyrinth, you can roll with the marbles through your faith journey.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, the best known and best loved of the psalms of praise.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless God’s holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all God’s benefits.
Blessing the Lord is easy for me today.
My life is filled with those “benefits” – happiness, love, friends, and celebration.
My dear brother and sister-in-law are visiting from Tennessee after nearly a two year hiatus.
My precious grandniece is being baptized today.
And my Sister in community is celebrating her 75th birthday. (And, yes, I did just about find time to write this blog! 🙂
Psalm 103 reminds us that in both joyful and sorrowful days, God’s Presence is our abiding blessing. And for this, we can always bless God:
In a 2016 Facebook post (a precursor of the blog) for this day, I wrote:
Today, in Mercy, we humbly praise God for being present in every moment of our lives. We lift our hands in praise for the joys that have revealed God’s beauty, and for the sorrows that have revealed God’s compassion. May we reverently live our thanks by our kindness to one another.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47 which keeps us on point as we move toward Pentecost:
All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with cries of gladness. For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth.
Psalm 47: 2-3
We can be confident. Christ’s work is accomplished. We await the Spirit which will accompany us now in living the Gospel fully.
For king of all the earth is God; sing hymns of praise. God reigns over the nations, God sits upon his holy throne.
Psalm 47: 8-9
Our Gospel today confirms us in our call, like the newly-gathered Twelve, to radical discipleship:
On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.
And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 100, considered by some to be the most revered and important of all the psalms. Walter Brueggemann says this:
This psalm is one of the best known and best loved in the entire repertoire of the Psalter. It breathes a faith of simple trust, glad surrender, and faithful responsiveness. It is not sung by newcomers who are only now embracing the faith but by those who are seasoned and at home in this faith and piety.
Psalm 100 is a prayer of pure, complete and confident joy in God. What a great way to live our lives!
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.
Psalm 100: 1-2
This is the kind of joy experienced by the early Church in Acts:
Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.
It is the joy which makes us impervious to hate, as Jesus describes in the Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples: “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, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
John 15: 18-19
Here is a line I love:
Don’t let the devil steal your JOY!
I first saw it from Pat Livingston, a wonderful speaker and writer on spirituality. But its roots are in John 16:22 as Jesus bids farewell to the disciples:
Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
Poetry: Happiness Is Harder
To read a book of poetry from back to front, there is the cure for certain kinds of sadness. A person has only to choose. What doesn’t matter; just that— This coffee. That dress. “Here is the time I would like to arrive.” “Today, I will wash the windows.” Happiness is harder. Consider the masters’ description of awakened existence, how seemingly simple: Hungry, I eat; sleepy, I sleep. Is this choosing completely, or not at all?
Music: Jubilate Deo – Mozart
Jubilate Deo omnis terra; servite Domino in lætitia. Introite in conspectu ejus in exsultatione. Scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus; ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos. Populus ejus, et oves pascuæ ejus, introite portas ejus in confessione; atria ejus in hymnis, confitemini illi. Laudate nomen ejus, quoniam suavis est Dominus; in æternum misericordia ejus; et usque in generationem et generationem veritas ejus.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, a song which dances with jubilation. It filled my prayer with images and music. No worded reflection … no Vatican documents. Just let the exuberant scriptures uplift you today.
That’s what I share with you today, beloveds❤️
Sing to the Lord! Toss away any old dirge trying to weigh your spirit down!
And sing anew because Jesus has given us this infinite gift.
Poetry: I Call You Beloved – Rabindranath Tagore
When You command me to sing, it seems that my heart would break with pride, and I look to your face, and tears come to my eyes. All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony— and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea. I know You take pleasure in my singing. I know that only as a singer I come before your presence. I touch, by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song, Your feet, which I could never aspire to reach. Drunk with the joy of singing, I forget myself and call you Beloved, who are my Lord.
Music: Two songs, one classical, one a little devilment, but I couldn’t help singing it.🤗
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 66, the exuberant prayer of those who recognize the beauty of God in their lives. They can see Love’s sacred thread, even when it is woven in subtle tones through the fabric of their lives.
I want to be one of those people, don’t you?
But sometimes, life might not look so beautiful. Surely it didn’t for some of the persecuted Christians in today’s first reading. And yet they remained faithful and found joy.
Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. … Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing… There was great joy in that city.
Joy is not dependent on circumstances. It is a foundational disposition of those convinced of God’s loving and faithful presence in our lives and in all Creation. It is a gift that accompanies faith, nurtures hope, and impels charity.
It is what our soul looks like when it shouts “Wow!” to God.
Say to God: “How awesome your deeds! Before your great strength all contradiction cringes. All the earth falls in worship before you; they sing of you, sing of your name!”
Psalm 66: 3-4
We can’t just WILL ourselves into this kind of joy. But we can ask for it, pray for it, plead for it. Such a prayer will turn and open our hearts toward our generous God Who longs to bless us with joy.
Poetry: Joy and Woe – William Blake
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 102, the prayer of someone in the midst of suffering. The psalm is introduced with stark honesty:
The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the LORD.
Psalm 102: 1
Psalm 102 speaks to those places in life’s journey where we experience intense, perhaps overwhelming suffering.
In our first reading, the Israelites suffer through what seems like a never-ending journey of homelessness. In our Gospel, Jesus begins his final journey toward his Passion and Death. These both were journeys with suffering as a constant companion
No one avoids suffering in some way. It is part of being human. Even our beloved Catherine McAuley left us this succinct maxim:
The psalmist, in the midst of his suffering, calls out to God for a return of the promised joy.
O LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
This prayer attests to the psalmist’s undaunted faith and to God’s unwavering fidelity.
This mutual faithfulness is where we all must stand in sorrow so that we may come, as Jesus did, to the fullness of Resurrection grace.
As we come closer to the profound mysteries of Holy Week, let us not only reverence our own joys and sorrows. Let us ask to enter more deeply into the experience of Jesus in this final unfolding of his life. May we deepen in the understanding that the suffering of Jesus is one with the suffering of our sisters and brothers.
Poetry: On Another’s Sorrow – William Blake
Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?
Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear --
And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?
And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
He doth give his joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.
Oh He gives to us his joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145, a hymn of exuberant and confident gratitude to an infinitely generous God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.
Psalm 145: 8-9
It’s a good psalm for this St. Patrick’s Day. Even though the liturgy stays with the Lenten Mass, today the Irish are praying with their patron Saint.
So when we read the following psalm verse, we think of the witness of our ancestors who suffered for and remained steadfast in the Faith:
The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works. The LORD lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
Psalm 145: 13-14
With an unquestioning allegiance, they transmitted that faith to the next generations. My great-grandmother was such a transmitter. Sixteen years old in 1884, she came alone to the U.S. carrying the thick Londonderry accent that made it hard for me to fully understand her.
When I was still a toddler, Nana would call me to her side to teach me the Hail Mary. I was resistant, wanting to wear the rosary for a necklace instead. But my mother told me that nevertheless, for my very young night prayers, I would repeat the prayer’s phrases with an evident Irish accent.
Of course, the accent did not remain. And Nana, although she lived until she was 83, slipped into dementia in her later years. But Ellen McGone’s mark on my spirit abides. It was burnished by her children, my grandmother and especially my granduncles. They chose to transmit the heritage by songs sung at every family gathering to the accompaniment of harmonica, pipe whistle, and a small squeezebox. Of course, they didn’t sound like the great John McCormack. But they thought they did, and so did I!
Happy Saint Paddy’s Day
When Irish Eyes are Smiling sure it’s like a morn in spring In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing when Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay but when Irish eyes are smiling sure they’ll steal your heart away
There’s a tear in your eye and I’m wondering why that it ever should be there at all with such power in your smile sure a stone you’d beguile and there’s never a teardrop should fall
when your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song and your eyes sparkle bright as can be Oh then laugh all the while and all other times smile and then smile a smile for me
For your smile is a part of the love in your heart, And it makes even sunshine more bright. Like the linnet’s sweet song, crooning all the day long, Comes your laughter and light for the springtime of life Is the sweetest of all There is ne’er a real care or regret; and while springtime is ours Throughout all of youth’s hours, let us smile each chance we get.
On this feast of the great and glorious St. Patrick, we might – no matter our heritage – want to pray with and for our treasured forbears who have nurtured in us the gifts of love, faith and heritage:
Great is the LORD and worthy of much praise, whose grandeur is beyond understanding.
One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works.
They speak of the splendor of your majestic glory, tell of your wonderful deeds.
They speak of the power of your awesome acts and recount your great deeds.
They celebrate your abounding goodness and joyfully sing of your justice.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.
Psalm 145: 4-8
Poetry: Songs of Our Land by Frances Brown
Songs of our land, ye are with us for ever,
The power and the splendor of thrones pass away;
But yours is the might of some far flowing river.
Through Summer's bright roses or Autumn's decay.
Ye treasure each voice of the swift passing ages,
And truth which time writeth on leaves or on sand;
Ye bring us the thoughs of poets and sages,
And keep them among us, old songs of our land.
The bards may go down to the place of their slumbers,
The lyre of the charmer be hushed in the grave,
But far in the future the power of their numbers
Shall kindle the hearts of our faithful and brave,
It will waken an echo in souls deep and lonely,
Like voices of reeds by the summer breeze fanned;
It will call up a spirit for freedom, when only
Her breathings are heard in the songs of our land.
For they keep a record of those, the true-hearted,
Who fell with the cause they had vowed to maintain;
They show us bright shadows of glory departed,
Of love that grew cold and hope that was vain.
The page may be lost and the pen long forsaken,
And weeds may grow wild o'er the brave heart and hand;
But ye are still left when all else hath been taken,
Like streams in the desert, sweet songs of our land.
Songs of our land, ye have followed the stranger,
With power over ocean and desert afar,
Ye have gone with our wanderers through distance and danger,
And gladdened their path like a homeguiding star.
With the breath of our mountains in summers long vanished,
And visions that passed like a wave from the sand,
With hope for their country and joy from her banished.
Ye come to us ever, sweet songs of our land.
The spring time may come with the song of our glory,
To bid the green heart of the forest rejoice,
But the pine of the mountain though blasted and hoary,
And the rock in the desert, can send forth a voice,
It was thus in their triumph for deep desolations,
While ocean waves roll or the mountains shall stand,
Still hearts that are bravest and best of the nations,
Shall glory and live in the songs of our land
Music: Hymn to Our Lady of Knock sung by The McBennett Sisters, a trio from Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland
They were people of all ages Gathered round the gabled wall Poor and humble, men and women Little children at your call, We are gathered here before you And our hearts are just the same Filled with joy at such a vision As we praise your name.
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland All my cares and troubles cease As I kneel with love before you Lady of Knock, My Queen of Peace
Though your message was unspoken Still the truth and silence reigns As I gaze upon your vision And the truth I tried to find Here I stand with John the Teacher And with Joseph at your side And I see the Lamb of God On the altar glorified.
Golden rose …
And the lamb will conquer, And the woman clothed in the sun, Will shine her light on everyone. Yes, the lamb will conquer, And the woman clothed in the sun, Will shine her light on everyone.