Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

April 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 31 whose verses carry the echo of Jesus on Calvary.

The psalm, following the reading from Acts describing Stephen’s martyrdom, creates a sacred link between these two deaths. Ever since, that link has sanctified every Christian martyr’s death.

We might think that martyrdom is an atrocity only of the early Christian times. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Throughout the centuries and today, Christians die in witness to their faith.


Today, we might pray to St. Stephen for all throughout the world who suffer for their faith and their commitment to social justice.

Be my rock of refuge,
    a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
    for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.

Psalm 31:3-4

We might pray as well for a conversion of heart for those who persecute, shun and disrespect others because of their own fears and insecurities. The psalmist chose to curse them with the literary chutzpah common in the psalms:

Do not let me be put to shame,
for I have called to you, LORD.
Put the wicked to shame;
reduce them to silence in Sheol.

Strike dumb their lying lips,
which speak arrogantly against the righteous
in contempt and scorn.

Psalm 31: 18-19

But in our charity, let us pray for their enlightenment and repentance:

Love the LORD, all you who are faithful to him.
The LORD protects the loyal,
but repays the arrogant in full.

Psalm 31:24

Poetry: Be Soft not Stony-Hearted – from Rumi

… may Jesus’s breath serve as your cure,
make you, like Itself so blessed and pure.
Don’t claim in spring on stone some verdure grows;
be soft, like soil, to raise a lovely rose.
For years you’ve been a stony-hearted man,
Try being like the soil now if you can!


Music: Sancte Dei Pretiosi


Saint of God, elect and precious,
Protomartyr Stephen, bright
With thy love of amplest measure,
Shining round thee like a light;
Who to God commendest, dying,
Them that did thee all despite.
Glitters now the crown above thee,
Figured in thy honored name:
O that we, who truly love thee,
May have portion in the same;
In the dreadful day of judgment
Fearing neither sin nor shame.
Laud to God, and might, and honor,
Who with flowers of rosy dye
Crowned thy forehead, and hath placed thee
In the starry throne on high:
He direct us, He protect us,
From death’s sting eternally.

Sancte Dei, pretiose,
Protomartyr Stephane,
Qui virtute caritatis
Circumfulsus undique,
Dominum pro inimico
Exorasti populo:
2. Et coronae qua nitescis
Almus sacri nominis,
Nos, qui tibi famulamur,
Fac consortes fieri:
Et expertes dirae mortis
In die Judicii.
3. Gloria et honor Deo
Qui te flora roseo
Coronavit et locavit
In throno sidereo :
Salvet reos, solvens eos
A mortis aculeo. Amen.

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 19: What Is Truth?

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, January 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, a hymn to the beauty of God’s Law.

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

Placed as it is in today’s liturgy, the psalm brings added emphasis to our exquisite first reading from Hebrews:

The Word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4: 12

LAW…WORD…TRUST…TRUTH…WISDOM…SPIRIT

These themes shout out to us from today’s readings. And they need to shout in order to be heard above the clamor of a culture that has so enfeebled “truth” that it can barely speak.

At the electoral confirmation hearings, after the Capitol insurrection, Mitt Romney bravely said, “The best way we could show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth”.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a novel idea in our fallacious political culture.

Praying Psalm 19 challenges me to recognize my role in reclaiming a mutually truthful, respectful, and reverently attentive society. It also summons me to demand the same from my political and religious leaders.


Poetry: two poems today

truth - Gwendolyn Brooks
And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?
Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?
Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?
Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.
The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

And this one from a Franciscan friend and revered mentor in social justice – Marie Lucey, OSF

A Justice- Seeker’s Journey
In high school art class—and in life--
I stayed within the lines.
“Timid soul,” the teacher branded me.
In English class I stood—green girl
in more ways than uniform--
to argue with the wiser nun
that men were more intelligent than women.
(Forgive me, God, and sisters!)

How did I get from there—a lifetime ago--
to here?
Over time layers of knowing peeled away,
core truths revealed.
Cries of people suffering—oppression,
injustice, human cruelty,
and my own dark nights,
insisted that I stand up, speak up, act up,
kneel down, reach out, reach in,
march, be cuffed and fined,
and even jailed just once.
Neither brave nor timid
I try to follow Jesus
who walked outside the lines.

Music: The Trouble with Truth – Joan Baez

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
So hard to forget, so impossible for me to change
Every time I try to fight it
I know I’ll be left to blame.

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
And the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear
Ringing so right, deep down inside my ear.


And it’s everything I want
And it’s everything I fear
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear

It had ruined the taste of the sweetest lies
Burned through my best alibis
Every sin that I deny
Keeps hanging round my door
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it always begs for more

That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
And the trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest
I run and hide, but there’s always another test
And I know that it won’t let me be
‘Till I’ve given it my best
The trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest

Psalm 72: Endow Our Leaders in Justice

Thursday after Epiphany

January 7, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with another glance at Psalm 72. The verses offered us today jarred me when I first read them. And then they began to speak, even shout, to my spirit.

Praying with the Psalms will not benefit us
if they do not speak to our experience.
Today, Psalm 72 clearly spoke to mine.

I am outraged that my country finds itself continually at the edge of violence and unrest solely on the bidding of one to whom we have entrusted our well-being.

I am beyond sick of normalizing the outrageous irresponsibility of Donald Trump. The sickness has seeped into my prayer and my peace. It causes me sleepless concern for my country and our world.

As I pray Psalm 27 today, I seek a grace from its ancient words. I seek a blessing for our own time.

O God, with your judgment endow the leaders,
    and with your justice, those who legislate;
Let your people be governed with justice
   and your afflicted ones with mercy.

Psalm 72:1-2

As we move through these final fractious days of a deeply disturbing presidency, let us pray for civility, justice, honor, and peace not only for America but for all throughout the world who depend on our integrity.


Poetry: Beclouded by Emily Dickinson

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.
A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

Music: Be a Blessing (Psalm 72) Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

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 124: Care! Be “Snare-Breakers”

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

December 28, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, remembering the Holy Innocents, we pray with Psalm 124.

Had not the LORD been with us—
When they rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.

Psalm 124: 2-3

The story of the Holy Innocents is shocking and gruesome. It is almost unbelievable— but for the fact that history has confirmed the capacity for perfidy in human hearts.

Herod’s consuming hunger for power swallowed everything in its path. And that kind of outrageous hunger has been replicated down through the ages in wars, genocides, slavery, mass incarcerations —- every manipulation of the vulnerable for the sake of the powerful.

These abominations would not be possible without the dehumanization of the other. This is the intrinsic atrocity of the massacre of the Holy Innocents. And it continues to be the core sin tempting every soul – to advance myself, apathetic to the cost of another.

We pray today for all in the human family overwhelmed and swept into desperation by the forces of cruel indifference:

Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.

Psalm 124: 4-5

We pray for the grace to become ever more just and merciful in our own choices; to be, in the name of the Lord, snare breakers for our sisters and brothers

Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124: 7-8

Poetry: As Kingfishers Catch Fire – Gerard Manley Hopkins 

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Music: Salvete Flores Martyrum from Quicumque Christum Quærtis

This hymn is a cento from the twelfth and last poem in the Cathemerinon of Prudentius, and in its full form it contains 208 lines. First line of complete hymn: Quicumque Christum quaeritis. Four beautiful centos from this hymn were included in the Breviary by Pius V (1568)

The earliest and most beautiful cento is the Salvete flores martyrum, which is found in the St. Gall manuscript, No. 413, of the 11th century, in a 12th century manuscript in the British Museum

Salvete Flores Martyrum

Salvete flores Martyrum
Quo lucis ipso in limine
Christi in secutur sustulit
Ceu turbo nascentes rosas.
Vos prima Christi victima
Grex immolatorum tener
Aram ante ipsam simplices
Palma et coronatis luditis.
Jesu tibi sit Gloria
Qui natus es de Virgine
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula

All hail, ye little Martyr flowers,
Sweet rosebuds cut in dawning hours!
When Herod sought the Christ to find
Ye fell as bloom before the wind.
First victims of the Martyr bands,
With crowns and palms in tender hands,
Around the very altar, gay
And innocent, ye seem to play.
All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet
To Father and to Paraclete.

Psalm 112: Call to Justice

Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

November 14, 2020

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112. We have prayed with this Psalm a few times recently:


Today however, with the usual elasticity of scriptural prayer, a new theme suggests itself, thanks to the two readings in which our psalm is couched.

That theme is justice,
and what it really means for us in our daily lives.

Wealth and riches shall be in the blessed one’s house;
where generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
who is gracious and merciful and just.


In secular culture, the words “justice” and “law” carry very different interpretations from biblical meanings. In the Bible, justice is that right-balance of Creation in which all beings support one another in the fullness of God’s love.

It is a balance which we all must help achieve, as we see in our first reading from John. In this unique letter, addressed to only one person – a Christian named Gaius, John requests material help for his early missionaries.

Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers and sisters,
especially for strangers;
they have testified to your love before the Church.
Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey.

Such requests mark the life of the Church throughout the ages, because our call in Christian community is about helping one another to live a full life in Christ. We could easily read John’s plea as a plea to us, especially in these times of seeking just global immigration policies.


In our Gospel, Jesus tells a parable which is overtly about prayer. But it carries deep themes of the justice God desires for all people, especially the vulnerable:

Will not God then secure the rights of God’s chosen ones
who call out day and night? 
Will God be slow to answer them? 
I tell you, God will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. 
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find justice on the earth?


Practicing justice and righteousness means active advocacy for the vulnerable. It means to do the works of mercy as a way to love God.

Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
that person is gracious and merciful and just.
It is well for the one who is gracious and lends,
who lives a graceful justice justice;
they shall never be moved;
the just ones shall be in everlasting remembrance.

Still lots to pray with in Psalm 112, even after a third round! 🙂


Poetry from Micah 6:8

You have been shown,, 
O human heart,
what is good.
Then what does the Lord 
require of you?
Just this:
to act justly,
to love mercy,
to walk humbly 
with your God.

Music: Seek Justice; Love Mercy – by Me in Motion

Psalm 139: Life Knitter

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

October 6, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 139 with its powerful image of God, the Life Knitter.

This psalm is hauntingly beautiful as it carries us in prayer to the moment of our own incarnation. We are awed by the thought of God touching us into life deep in the darkness of our mother’s womb.


Paul, in our first reading, says that even from that first moment, he was “set apart and called through grace.”

Every one of us receives the same divine mark as Paul. Every one of our lives is known full well in God’s love:

My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.


Praying with this psalm, I am profoundly aware of the “life issues” at the root of U.S. culture and politics which face us in this election. I place myself before my Creator as I grapple with my abhorrence of abortion and my deep commitment to a “whole life” morality.

The document I share below has guided me as I try to faithfully discern the best moral choice in voting. As the document points out, “Faith does not fit into political parties neatly”. Indeed there is currently no party platform that fully and perfectly responds to the moral demands of our faith. Yet that faith requires that we participate in the political process of moving toward such a response.

Faithful voters are presented with a dilemma in the fullest sense of that word, that is, ” a circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.”

Still, it is not enough to abandon our discernment to a single-issue mentality.

Besides considering the whole range of life and justice concerns, we must calculate the moral character of those we choose to govern and set national policy:

  • their honesty, compassion, decency, respect, toward all people; 
  • their capacity for mutuality, dialogue, and peace-building; 
  • their “economics morality”, (i.e. who shares in the basic rights necessary for a decent life)
  • their vision of democracy, human rights, and international power
  • their compatibility with the total legacy of Catholic social teaching

As we pray with Psalm 139 today, let us bring our concerns and hopes to God and ask for inspiration and courage.

Click below for the voting discernment document Equally Sacred Priorities


Poem: Invocation by Everett Hoagland

(Originality from Philadelphia, PA, Hoagland was Poet Laureate of New Bedford, MA 1994-1998. He is Professor Emeritus at UMass Dartmouth.)

Architect of icebergs, snowflakes,
crystals, rainbows, sand grains, dust motes, atoms.

Mason whose tools are glaciers, rain, rivers, ocean.

Chemist who made blood
of seawater, bone of minerals in stone, milk

of love. Whatever

You are, I know this,
Spinner, You are everywhere, in All The Ever-
Changing Above, whirling around us.

Yes, in the loose strands,
in the rough weave of the common

cloth threaded with our DNA on hubbed, spoked
Spinning Wheel that is this world, solar system, galaxy,

universe.

Help us to see ourselves in all creation,
and all creation in ourselves, ourselves in one another.

Remind those of us who like connections
made with similes, metaphors, symbols
all of us are, everything is
already connected.

Remind us as oceans go, so go we. As the air goes, so go we.
As other life forms on Earth go, so go we.

As our planet goes, so go we. Great Poet,
who inspired In The Beginning was The Word . . . ,

edit our thought so our ethics are our politics,
and our actions the afterlives of our words.”

Music: I Cannot Hide from You

Mercy Day Reverie

This morning, as I prayed in preparation for a Mercy Day blog, I found it hard to pull the bright thread of Mercy out from the jumble of concerns now enveloping me – and I think most of us.

Of course, there’s the relentless pandemic. But there is a host of other burdensome issues pre-dating Covid 19 that seem to have gotten entangled with that global worry:

  • world poverty and hunger
  • endless war
  • climate crisis
  • racial injustice
  • poisonous politics
  • depersonalization of refugees and immigrants

I spent a long part of the morning wondering what I could write about Mercy in the shadow of these worries.


Then an image came to me … a delightful memory of my childhood in 1950s North Philadelphia. 

I’ve always treasured the fact that I grew up in a “real” neighborhood of row houses and still safe streets.  It was a geography of unarticulated intimacy, respect, and protection. You knew when your next door neighbor got up in the morning and ran the bath tub. The walls were shared with people of every possible ethnicity and religion. Even our telephone was on a “party line”, connected with a neighbor at the end of the block whom, of course, we never listened in on.

As little kids, we went out on a summer morning and never came home until we heard our mothers call from the doorsteps of our compacted houses. We spent the hours playing street games like Baby-in-the-Air, handball, hose ball, jacks, jumping rope, Red Rover. If you’ve never played them or even heard of them, I’m so sorry. You won’t find any fun like them in today’s video game stores!


But the frolic that came to mind this morning was the simple game of Tag and its core element of “base”. I pictured Petey Nicolo standing, eyes covered, against the corner telephone pole, chanting Tag’s magic formula:

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty ……
Anybody around my base is “It”!

The chant revealed this key component the game: if you touched “base” (the telephone pole), you were immune from the tag. You were safe.


Maybe my little reverie back to my childhood doesn’t seem much like a Mercy Day prayer, but here’s the thing. 

Our merciful God is our “base”, our Refuge. Touching into God’s abiding love for us, we are safe from the “tag” of life’s multitudinous worries. This is so, not because the worries disappear, but we are able to look through them to the Mercy of God who will always deliver us to grace if we ask.

On this strange Mercy Day, we are prevented in so many ways from touching one another. Let us, nevertheless, listen through the pandemic walls that separate us. Let us tap into one another’s “party line”. Let us run together, loved and protected children, toward Mercy Who calls us even, and maybe especially, in our tumultuous times. Let us place all the tangles in God’s gentle, unraveling fingers.

And as we run, let’s grab the hands of those our selfish culture wants to leave behind, pulling them with us to Lavish Mercy.

Music – Home by David Nevue

Psalm 138: Sing with the Angels

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 23, 2020

From 21st Sunday – 2017:
Today, in Mercy, we pray with the second reading, one of the magnificent Pauline hymns. The words wrap us in awed and humble worship of the mysterious majesty of God revealed to us in Christ. May we find it today in our own worship and prayer. To God be glory forever.
( An extra: Yes, a Christmas song again … but so beautiful an interpretation of our second reading.)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 138, a hymn of thanksgiving and hope.  

As usual with the Sunday readings, a common cord ties the passages together. The obvious one today is how God entrusts power to us for the establishment of God’s milieu in Creation.

Psalm 138 carries, as well, a more subtle but infinitely important thread: the heart of that power is always Divine Kindness – Mercy.  This fact is what generates our deep gratitude.

I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.


So power, to be like God’s Power, must always be exercised in kindness. What would the world be like if only that were true! What would our own daily lives be like?

Every one of us has tremendous power whether we realize it or not. Sometimes it is physical or positional power. But more often, it is the power of:
our words or our silence
our acknowledgment or indifference
our presence or absence
our support or our resistance.


We choose how to use our power –
either for or against,
either with or over others.


Psalm 138 tells us how God chooses to use power.

LORD, you are exalted, yet the lowly you see,
and the proud you know from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.

Our exalted and powerful God is kind, merciful. God loves the humble and lowly, but keeps distance from the proud, from those who lord it over others. This is the infinite wisdom and power of God and the mysteriously sacred way by which we are redeemed.

Psalm 138, just as our reading from Romans, is a song of amazed joy for God’s unsearchable wisdom and mercy.


Poem: Kindness – Naomi Shihab Nye


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.


Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.


Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.


Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Music: The Fragrance of Christ – sung by Alma de Rojas

Refrain: Lord, may our prayer rise like incense in your sight.
May this place be filled with the fragrance of Christ.

1. I will thank you, Lord, with all of my heart.
You have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels, I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.

2. I will thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness and love,
beyond all my hopes and dreams.
On the day that I called, you answered; you gave life to the strength of my soul.

3. All who live on earth shall give you thanks
when they hear the words of your voice, and all shall sing of your ways:
“How great is the glory of God!”