Psalm 23: Darkness to Light

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Monday, March 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our revered Psalm 23. This powerful prayer of confidence and hope fits well with today’s readings.

In the passage from Daniel, the innocent Susanna never wavers in her trust:

O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me. 
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me.”
The Lord heard her prayer.

Daniel 13: 42-44

In our Gospel, the woman – though not innocent – stills finds refuge in Jesus’s mercy.

So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

John 8: 9-11

Like these two women, we may find ourselves in a dark valley at times. Whether we are innocent or guilty in arriving there, God abides with us in mercy. 

The key is to acknowledge our situation and to reach out to that Mercy. In that way, even though we encounter difficulty, as said in Psalm 23, we live in Light and not in shadow:

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

Psalm 23: 5-6

Poetry: Light by Rabindranath Tagore

Light, my light, the world-filling light, 
the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!

Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the center of my life; 
the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; 
the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.

The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. 
Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.

The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, 
and it scatters gems in profusion.

Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, 
and gladness without measure.
 The heaven’s river has drowned its banks 
and the flood of joy is abroad.


Being Led to Light

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
March 30, 2020

 

Click here for readings

Today in Mercy, we encounter the stories of Suzanna and the woman taken in adultery. Both these stories always make me mad. Even though their ultimate lesson is the justice and mercy of God, I can’t help nettling every time I read them.

Here’s why. Still today, in so many instances, women continue to endure the same kind of assault, objectification, suspicion and blame — and still at the hands of judges, clerics, business and political leaders. Just let the newsreels of the past few years run through your mind. You’ll be as angry as I am.

So to save you from a continuing diatribe, I have gone back to a piece I wrote for the Catholic Health Association several years ago.  It looks at the themes of this week in Lent. It helps us to break through the stories to their point of redemption, to go through death to life, sin to forgiveness, judgement to mercy, darkness to light.


Reflection for the Fifth Week of Lent

 I will keep my covenant with you …
to be your God
and the God of your descendants after you.
~Genesis 17:7

roses
photo by Chi Pham

The golden June morning had broken bright and warm through the hospital windows. With its breaking, the attending physician and chaplain had received a page. Dorothy had taken an unexpected turn. She was struggling both to live and to die.

As they attended and comforted her, Dorothy managed to whisper ” … wait for Henry.” Henry, her husband of fifty-eight years, had arrived promptly at 7:00 AM daily for all the weeks of Dorothy’s hospitalization. Glancing at her watch, the chaplain saw that it was just 6:50 AM.

When, after ten eternal minutes, Henry appeared at the door, he carried a small bouquet of yellow roses from their beloved garden. Quickly apprehending the changed situation, he laid the roses aside and hurried to hold Dorothy for the last few minutes of her life. In the loving, covenanted presence Dorothy had waited for, she finally embraced a peaceful death.

It had not been easy for Dorothy to die nor, from then on, had it been easy for Henry to live. Still, through many bereavement visits, the chaplain watched their long, honest love arise to heal Henry. Through prayer and the benediction of memories, Henry realized that their love, like the roses still blooming in their garden, was both fragile and perpetual.

In this week’s readings, God again calls us to such a love. As God brought Lazarus, Suzanna and Shadrack out of darkness and death, so God promises to bring us. “I will keep my covenant with you,” God says. “Whoever keeps my word will never die.”

Accompanying Jesus, as he nears Jerusalem, let us trust and cherish these promises in our own darknesses and bereavements. Let us ask God to deliver us from both our sins and our judgements of others.

Music: No Shame – by Tenth Avenue North