Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
June 22, 2020
It has been suggested that I make it easier to find previous reflections on the readings for the day, just in case you would like to pray with the First Reading or Gospel. I’ll try to remember to do that.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 60, and it’s a doozy. It is a hard Psalm to pray with because it contains many layers of meaning. But, in the end, I think it is worth the effort.
The Psalm emerges from a time filled with violence. David struggles to keep control both within and outside his kingdom. His own son and nephew turn against him. His nephew wreaks unspeakable mayhem in Israel’s name. Everything in David’s world is in violent disarray. He actually whines to God about the mess:
- O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses …
- You have rocked the country and split it open …
- You have made your people feel hardships …
- You have given us stupefying wine…
Like many of you, I read these verses in the wake of another divisive political rally, in a country riven by fearful hatred, racism, biased brutality, political corruption, and poisonous propaganda. I am so tempted to immediately tie Psalm 60 to these current realities.
But I think that, when we pray the psalms, we must let them first teach us about ourselves. Once that conversion or enlightenment occurs, it may then be possible to apply their wisdom to our world.
What is it that makes Psalm 60 a prayer and not a political manifesto? We find the answer in verse 7:
Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
David realizes that he is completely out of whack. He has just put all the responsibility for his chaos in God’s lap when it is really David’s own self-serving choices that have caused the problem.
David’s selfish, short-sighted, and sinful decisions have blinded him like “stupefying wine”. One might say he has drunk his own kool-aid. He needs God’s justice to detoxify him … that divine “right hand” which created a perfectly balanced world.
Each of David’s previously mentioned “whines” is completed with a sincere and contrite plea:
- rally us!
- repair the cracks in the country
- give us aid against the foe
Once we realize, like David:
- that the “country” is our own heart,
- that the “foe” is any residue there of injustice,
- and that the “rally” must be of our own merciful love,
… only then might we be ready to pray for our fractured country and our broken, weeping world.
Poetry: Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front – Wendell Berry’s inspired poem about conversion and recovery of the soul in a soul-killing culture.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know. So, friends, every day do something that won't compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed. Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion — put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth? Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.
Music: Be Still My Soul – Exultate Singers