Psalm 105: Wondrous Deeds

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 celebrating God’s covenanted faithfulness to us.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke God’s name;
    make known among the nations God’s deeds.
Sing, sing God’s praise,
    proclaim all God’s wondrous deeds.
(because…) The Lord remembers the covenant for ever.

Psalm 105: 1-2, 8

We certainly can spend some time in prayer today remembering God’s faithfulness to us personally. A grateful review of our life journey can always offer new insights into God’s love and generosity.

But more specifically, our psalm calls us to plumb the two readings which it connects.

  • Hebrews reminds us that God’s love is so extreme that God took Flesh in Jesus to teach us, in terms we could understand, the degree of God’s love.
  • In Mark, we see the early expression of that love, as Jesus reveals his healing power to the wretchedly suffering crowds.

In these readings, we learn that God’s promise endures to each generation:

God remembers the covenant forever
    which was made binding for a thousand generations– 
Which was entered into with Abraham
    and by God’s oath to Isaac.

Psalm 105: 8

In Chronos Time, this enduring covenant was enfleshed in Jesus. It continues in Kairos Time through each person’s Baptism into Christ through the Holy Spirit.

In other words,
we are the agents of God’s covenant with the world. Our lives must enflesh God’s Mercy for our times.

In his letter to Titus, Paul puts this clearly:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, we were saved not because of righteous things we had done, but because of God’s mercy. God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by God’s grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  

Titus 3: 4-7

May the message of these readings free us,
inspire us, and impel us
to a grace-filled response.


Poetry: Grace by Jill Peláez Baumgartner

Is it the transparency
and lift of air?
Is it release
as when the pebble
flings out of the slingshot
or the tethered dog
suddenly is without lead?

Or is it more like standing
on a dark beach
at midnight,
the surf loud
with its own revolution,
the horizon invisible,
the entire world the threat
of rushing water?

No one who swims 
at night in the ocean
feels weightless
embracing armfuls of water
against the ballast
of the waves’ fight.

Swimming:
toward the shore lights
or out into the vast bed
of the sea's white fires?

Music: Confitemini Domino – Psalm 105 – Orlando di Lasso (first published in 1562)

Confitemini Domino et invocate nomen ejus,

annuntiate inter gentes opera ejus,

cantate ei et psallite ei.

Narrate omnia mirabilia ejus,

laudamini in nomine sancto ejus,

laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum.

Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name,

declare his deeds among the Gentiles,

sing to him, yea sing praises to him.

Relate all his wondrous works,

Glory ye in his holy name,

let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

Psalm 147: Lightning Strike

Friday after Epiphany

January 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 147.

I began my prayer this morning still unsettled by the events at the U.S. Capitol building. Then I considered that it was still the Octave of the Epiphany, and realized that some epiphanies come by stormy lightning and not by starlight.


My first attempts at prayer seemed to bounce off the psalm’s formulaic words like sleet off a tin roof. The psalm did not yield to my need for naming and healing my anger and pain – the lightning’s wounds.

Asking to find God’s voice in the psalm, I finally came to see it as Israel’s prayer once it had been healed – just like I needed to be healed, just like our country needed to be.


The psalm revealed the steps to such healing …
the steps I, and we as a nation, might take to wholeness.
We heal:

by acknowledging God in humility and praise:
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
    praise your God, O Zion.


by strengthening an inclusive community:
For God has strengthened the bars of your gates;


by reverencing every family and neighbor:
God has blessed your children within you.


by building an infrastructure of peace:
God has granted peace in your borders


by assuring life’s basic needs for all:
With the best of wheat God fills you


by cherishing the Earth we share:
God sends forth the command to the earth;
    swiftly runs God’s word!

We heal, ultimately,
by acknowledging the unique gift
of God’s loving relationship
with us and every other creature.

If we truly live within that acknowledgment,
we become people of truth and mercy –
People of God.


Poetry: from A Book of Psalms – Stephen Mitchell closes Psalm 147 with this transliteration:

You rejoice in a pure heart 
and in those who let you shine through them...
You send your wisdom to their minds; 
your light runs faster than a thought.
Above all others they are blessed, 
because they can hear you speak
(though your love speaks in all people, 
in the silence of every heart).

Music: Heal Our Nation – Heartbeat

Psalm 27: Can We Love Like This?

Wednesday after Epiphany

January 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we once again pray with Psalm 27, we do so in the light of our seminal first reading from John:

God is love, 
and when we remain in love 
we remain in God 
and God in us.

1 John 4:16

How can we love like that?

Psalm 27 tells us how God does it:

For the Lord rescues the poor who cry out,
and the afflicted who have no other help.
The Lord has pity for the lowly and the poor;
and saves the lives of the poor.

Psalm 27: 12-13

Our psalm gives us the measure for love in our lives. Who are the suffering ones in the circle of our experience? How are we widening that circle to offer loving mercy with greater energy and fidelity?


The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy can be our guide as we seek to stretch our love in ever-widening circles.

The Corporal Works of Mercy

To feed the hungry
To give water to the thirsty
To clothe the naked
To shelter the homeless
To visit the sick
To visit the imprisoned, and ransom the captive
To bury the dead


The Spiritual Works of Mercy

To instruct the ignorant.
To counsel the doubtful.
To admonish sinners.
To bear patiently those who wrong us.
To forgive offenses.
To comfort the afflicted.
To pray for the living and the dead.


Poetry: Widening Circles – Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

Music: The Mercy Song – Paul Alexander

Psalm 72: Governed with Mercy

Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop

January 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 72 which will be familiar to us because it is used six times throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Psalm 72: 1-2

This short post-Epiphany season is all about “manifestation” – how Jesus begins to show us the face of God-become-flesh.

The core message, conveyed to us in the daily progressive reading of 1 John, is that God is Love.


Our Gospel today, the feeding of the 5000, shows how that Love is expressed – merciful action for those in need.

Our psalm, written a thousand years before Christ, exults in the expectation of such a merciful Messiah:


The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Let us begin once again, in this new year,
to soak in the words and images
describing this longed-for and loving Savior.


Poetry: When Little Was Enough – Irene Zimmerman, OSF

(LUKE 9:10–17)

“Send the people away from this deserted place
to find food and lodgings,” the twelve urged Jesus,
“for the day is advanced and it is almost evening.”

Jesus looked at the crowd (there were about five thousand)
and looked at his disciples, still excited and tired
from their first mission journey.

What had they learned from the villagers of Galilee
who shared bread and sheltered them from cold night winds?
What had they learned of human coldness on the way?

He remembered the pain in his mother’s voice
as she told of his birth night when they found no room
in all of Bethlehem, House of Bread.

“You give them something to eat!” he said.

“We have only five loaves and two fish!” they protested.
“How can we feed so many with so little?”
He understood their incredulity.

They had yet to learn that a little was enough
when it was all they had—
that God could turn these very stones to bread.

“Have the crowd sit down in groups of fifty,” he said.
Jesus took the food and looked up to heaven.
He blessed it, broke it, gave it to the disciples
to distribute to the new-formed churches.

Afterwards, when everyone was satisfied,
the twelve filled twelve baskets of bread left over—
as faith stirred like yeast within them.


Music: Justice Shall Flourish – Rory Cooney

Psalm 2: A Political World

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

January 4, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 2. The prayer seems a fitting reminder to all of us, and especially US citizens, as our new political season opens.

And now, O rulers, give heed;
take warning, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice before God;
with trembling rejoice…
Blessed are all who take refuge in God!


Although I was relieved to lessen my political attention after the November election, I realize that we always have a moral imperative both to pray for our leaders and to measure their efforts, and our own, against the standards of social justice. 

Click right triangle above to hear how Handel felt about it as he uses Psalm 2 in his Messiah.
Why do the nations so furiously rage together,
and who do the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth rise up,
and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord,
and against His Anointed.
George Frederic Handel: Messiah 
Psalm 2: 1-2

The interplay of politics and morality is on-going, and its energy rises once again with this month’s seating of the new Congress and inauguration of President Biden.

The U.S. and the world has been given stark lessons under the tenure of the exiting president. Some have learned from these experiences. Some have allowed their ignorances to be confirmed.

It has not been easy. We live in an age when truth and morality have been rendered elastic – seemingly malleable to multiple alternative narratives.


Another verse of Psalm 2 from Handel’s Messiah
Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us.
(Psalm 2:3)

Psalm 2 reminds us of the one true narrative:
we are all creatures of God
charged to live in harmony
with one another and with the Creator.

Seen in a political light, we are a long way from achieving that charge. 

Our elected leaders have an almost impossible job to guide this fractured nation closer to our moral hope. But our prayer, and our sincere contribution to the effort, can make a huge difference in the result.

Despite any partisan leanings, can we pledge that contribution?


Poetry: The Paths of Love and Justice – Christine Robinson

Why are the nations in an uproar?
Why do the peoples mutter and threaten?
Why do the rich plot with the powerful?
They are rebelling against the demands of Love and Justice.
God laughs, cries, and says with anger:
I have set my Love in your hearts and my Justice in your minds.
You are my children and I have given you the universe
your lives, and the tasks of your days.
Be wise
Be warned
Stick to the paths of Love and Justice.
Your restless hearts will find me there.


Music: Justice and Mercy – Matt Redman

Psalm 34: The Reason

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 15, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34.

When I read its refrain, my mind was triggered into a kind of “Jeopardy-like” exchange with God:

Answer: This is the reason God sent his Son,
and continues to redeem the world in us.

Question : What is “The Lord hears the cry of the poor”.

Psalm 34 reiterates a fundamental fact so often overshadowed by our highly secularized “Christmas unconsciousness”. The psalm refocuses us by consistently using words like this:

  • Let my soul glory in the LORD;
    the lowly will hear me and be glad.
  • When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
    and from all his distress he saved him.
  • 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.

Christmas is God’s response to the unrelenting cry of the poor. If we want to truly honor and celebrate Christmas, we must allow that merciful and healing response to flow through us.

How and where do I hear the cry of the poor?
How do I respond?

Poetry: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit Alice Walker (born February 9, 1944) is an American novelist, story writer, poet and social activist. In 1982, she wrote the novel The Color Purple for which she won the National Book Award hardcover fiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Did you ever understand this? 
If my spirit was poor, how could I enter heaven? 
Was I depressed? 
Understanding editing,
I see how a comma, removed or inserted
with careful plan,
can change everything.
I was reminded of this
when a poor young man
in Tunisia
desperate to live
and humiliated for trying
set himself ablaze; 
I felt uncomfortably warm
as if scalded by his shame.
I do not have to sell vegetables from a cart as he did
or live in narrow rooms too small for spacious thought; 
and, at this late date,
I do not worry that someone will
remove every single opportunity
for me to thrive.
Still, I am connected to, inseparable from,
this young man.
Blessed are the poor, in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus. (Commas restored) .
Jesus was as usual talking about solidarity: about how we join with others
and, in spirit, feel the world, and suffering, the same as them.
This is the kingdom of owning the other as self, the self as other; 
that transforms grief into
peace and delight.
I, and you, might enter the heaven
of right here
through this door.
In this spirit, knowing we are blessed,
we might remain poor 

Music: The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor – John Foley, SJ

Psalm 103: Merciful and Gracious

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

December 9, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103 which bursts with music even as we silently read it!

forget-me-not
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.
Psalm 103:1-2

Our psalm rests today between two Advent readings which pick up its melody of grace and mercy.


First is the passage from Isaiah 40 musically captured in this familiar hymn:

Our Gospel offers Jesus’s most comforting promise. Let him sing it to you:

For our prayer today, it is enough to rest in these gifts.


Poetry: Come – Christina Rossetti 

‘Come,’ Thou dost say to Angels,
To blessed Spirits, ‘Come’:
‘Come,’ to the lambs of Thine own flock,
Thy little ones, ‘Come home.’

‘Come,’ from the many-mansioned house
The gracious word is sent;
‘Come,’ from the ivory palaces
Unto the Penitent.

O Lord, restore us deaf and blind,
Unclose our lips though dumb:
Then say to us, ‘I will come with speed,’
And we will answer, ‘Come.’

Psalm 147: Jesus- God’s Lullaby

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

December 5, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 147 coming after the consoling passage from Isaiah:

O my people,
no more will you weep;
I will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as I hear you, I will answer.

Isaiah 30:19

Our readings today assure us that God sees and cares about our suffering. Like a mother who sings to a crying child, God wants to comfort us.

God heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
God tells the number of the stars;
calling each by name.

Psalm 147: 3-4

God’s lullaby is Jesus Christ. In Jesus, our Creator sings over us the melody of Infinite Love and Mercy. All we need do is calm ourselves and listen. 

Jesus is the Divine Song.
He sings God’s Mercy over all who suffer.

At the sight of the crowds,
Jesus’s heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned.

Matthew 9:36

All of us, at some time in our lives, stand amidst the troubled crowd. Our friends and family members too stand there at times.

Today, as we pray Psalm 147, let us place all our troubles, and theirs, in the loving embrace of God who sings the lullaby of Jesus over us.


Poetry: from Rumi

Every midwife knows
that not until a mother's womb
softens from the pain of labour
will a way unfold
and the infant find that opening to be born.
 
Oh friend! 
There is treasure in your heart, 
it is heavy with child.

Listen.

All the awakened ones, 
like trusted midwives are saying, 
'welcome this pain.'
It opens the dark passage of Grace.

Music: Quietly – Jay Stocker

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

November 26, 2020

A blessed and heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Today’s special readings for the feast are so rich and beautiful. They evoke and confirm in us a deep sense of thanksgiving as we read and pray with them today.

Let their beauty and instruction enrich your prayer as you slowly read these scriptures. You may want to speak the phrases aloud slowly, letting their wisdom flow gently over your spirit.

May you, your families, your communities
and all our precious world
be blessed in any way our spirits deeply need.
Let us give thanks
for the Lavish Mercy of God!


Thanksgiving Prayer: by Renee Yann,RSM

© ReneeYann

Music: I Will Praise Your Name (The Hand of the Lord Feeds Us)- Scott Soper

Psalm 144: My Mercy!

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday, November 21, 2020

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

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


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

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

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

The Presentation of Mary by Titian

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

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

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

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


We pray with Mary:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed be the Lord, my rock and my fortress, 

  my stronghold, my deliverer, 

  My shield and he in whom I take refuge. 

We are like breath, 

  our days are like a passing shadow. 

Bow thy heav’ns, O Lord, 

  come down! 

Stretch forth thy hand from on high, 

  rescue me, deliver me. 

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

– Psalm 144