Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 139, a familiar and powerful favorite for many of us.

As a whole, the psalm conveys an assurance that God is everywhere, caring for and directing our lives toward good.

Still, the psalmist paints the picture of a treacherous journey to that assurance, a journey through various levels of darkness:

the darkness of the womb:

You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.


the darkness of life’s “secrets”

LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
You sift through my travels and my rest;
with all my ways you are familiar.

139: 1-3

the darkness of people who make evil choices:

Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?
Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?
With fierce hatred I hate them,
enemies I count as my own.

139: 21-22

the darkness within the one who prays

Probe me, God, know my heart;
try me, know my thoughts.
See if there is a wicked path in me;
lead me along an ancient path.

139: 23-24

Even though we try – and often succeed – to live in God’s Light, as long as we live in this world we will be besieged by darkness. It is simply part of being human. The darkness can come to us, as it did to the psalmist, in many forms:

doubt, fear, sin, illness, loneliness, addiction, mental anguish, poverty, hunger, death and bereavement 

The triumphant core of Psalm 139 is the faith-filled assertion that God is greater than any darkness. God is always Light.

If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”, –
Darkness is not dark for you,
and night shines as the day.
Darkness and light are but one.

139: 11-12

Like the psalmist, we may struggle at times to find God in our shaded experiences. But God has, from the beginning and forever, already found us.

Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
far too lofty for me to reach

139: 5-6

Prose: Pope Benedict XVI on the Trinity

God is love and only love, 
most pure, infinite and eternal love. 
The Trinity does not live in a splendid solitude, 
but is rather the inexhaustible font of life 
that unceasingly gives itself and communicates itself….
The “name” of the Most Holy Trinity is in a certain way 
impressed upon everything that exists, 
because everything that exists, 
down to the least particle, 
is a being in relation, 
and thus God-relation shines forth, 
ultimately creative Love shines forth…. 
The strongest proof that we are made 
in the image of the Trinity is this: 
only love makes us happy, 
because we live in relation, 
and we live to love and be loved.

Address at The Angelus, June 7, 2009

Music: The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel 

Hello, Darkness, my old friend …

Psalm 33: God’s Peace

Friday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

October 16, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 which has been described as “a song of praise” and a call to worship. But as I pray with it this morning, I think of the psalm as much more. Within it is a profound call to social justice grounded in faith.

Maybe my attitude is the result of a commercial I keep thinking about. You may have seen it – the one for an organization called Wounded Warriors. Every time I see it, my soul splits. There is deep compassion, admiration and respect for the veterans depicted. But there is also the raging question “WHY!”.

How can we still allow, tout, and support the systemic atrocity of war in any form? How can we see these young men and women, bodies maimed and lives fractured, and not be outraged that war even exists!

I think that, thousands of years ago, the writer of Psalm 33 may have entertained similar questions. The psalmist realizes that it is not by the superiority of the nation state that a people gains righteousness and mercy.

The LORD foils the plan of nations,
frustrates the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever,
the designs of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people chosen as his inheritance.

Psalm 33:10-12

It is instead by acknowledging God’s care for all peoples that a nation achieves the humility, understanding, and courage to help build universal peace.

From heaven the LORD looks down
and observes all the children of Adam,
From his dwelling place he surveys
all who dwell on earth.
The One who fashioned together their hearts
is the One who knows all their works.

Psalm 33:13-15

The challenge of global peace-making is daunting. We “children of Adam” have permitted ourselves to not only normalize, but to exalt war. Reversing the systems that depend on and lead to war will be a long, complex, and arduous pursuit.

But for God’s sake, and our own, we must do it!
Our soul waits for the LORD,
he is our help and shield.
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
May your mercy, LORD, be upon us;
as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33: 20-21

Reading: from
In Truth, Peace
1 JANUARY 2006

The theme chosen for this year’s reflection—In truth, peace — expresses the conviction that wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendour of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace. The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, promulgated forty years ago at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, stated that humankind will not succeed in ”building a truly more human world for everyone, everywhere on earth, unless all people are renewed in spirit and converted to the truth of peace”. 

But what do those words, ”the truth of peace”, really mean? To respond adequately to this question, we must realize that peace cannot be reduced to the simple absence of armed conflict, but needs to be understood as ”the fruit of an order which has been planted in human society by its divine Founder”, an order ”which must be brought about by humanity in its thirst for ever more perfect justice”. As the result of an order planned and willed by the love of God, peace has an intrinsic and invincible truth of its own, and corresponds ”to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us”.

Music: Let There Be Peace on Earth sung by the magnificent Wintley Phipps