Psalm 65: Word-Seed

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 12, 2020

From 2017:

Today, in Mercy, we pray with the powerful and mysterious readings of today’s liturgy. They tell us that God breathes eternal inspiration into us and all Creation. The gift, like seed, is intended to bear fruit that is returned to God in love and praise. By participating in that return, we become children of God. May the seed of God’s Word fall on good ground in our spirits.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 65, a song poem probably written to celebrate the harvest season. The psalm describes an abundantly fruitful earth, filled with life and produce.

Though humans labor for these blessings, God is the bounty’s true agent. The power of that agency is found in the array of words used to describe God’s actions.

God has: 

  • visited 
    • watered
      • enriched
        • filled
          • prepared
  • drenched
    • broken up
      • softened
        • blessed and
          • crowned

What is it that has drawn all this intervention from God? Our readings tell us. It is the Word-Seed which is God’s own life.

Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down….
so shall my Word be. (Isaiah 55)
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revealing Word of the children of God… (Romans 8)
The seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the Word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and 
yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. (Matthew 13)

By our dedicated prayer with scripture and trusted spiritual reading, the Word works on our spirits just as the psalm describes.  Our understanding, too, is visited, watered, enriched, filled, prepared, drenched, broken up, softened and ultimately blessed and crowned.

As we pray with Psalm 65 today, we can picture David looking out from hilltop over the abundance of his fields. His heart is filled with awe and praise for God’s generosity.

We all want to live in a spiritual landscape akin to the psalm’s bountiful picture. Inviting God’s Word, in humility, gratitude, and awe is a true path to such blessing.

Poetry: A Word Is Dead – Emily Dickinson

Music: Aria by Secret Garden

Psalm 69: Snapping Out on God

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 21, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 69 which Brueggemann describes as

“a script for unburdening negation in God’s presence. It is a script for rehabilitation to the community of praise and thanks.”

Walter Bruggemann: From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

This Sunday’s reading are not happy ones. Jeremiah is plagued by his persecutors. Romans describes the reign of sin and death before Christ’s act of redemption. And, in our Gospel, Jesus tells his followers not to be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul!

Guess what! Despite the Gospel’s advice, I am afraid of that kind of stuff — persecution, sin, evil, murder…. and all the other terrible consequences in the larger reading of all of Psalm 69.

And guess what else. The psalmist is not only afraid. He is angry… and I mean infuriated, outraged and massively ticked off.

No one wants to listen to him about his grievances either so who gets an earful? Yes, you got it — God. 

In verses 22-28, the writer spews a line of curses for his enemies. And they’re masterpieces — very satisfying ideations if you ever find yourself in similar straits.

But that’s the whole beauty of this psalm. All the negativity remains in the prayer’s imagination. It is not acted out. Once vehemently expressed to God, the catharsis slowly evolves to healing. This happens because the complaining psalmist all of a sudden realizes to Whom he is complaining — the Merciful One, the Patient One, the Forgiving One who has given all these generosities repeatedly to him.

I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness;
in your great mercy turn toward me.

Seeing God’s Face turn toward him in prayer, the psalmist regains balance. The final verse of the psalm rests on the hope and confidence God has promised in the covenantal relationship.

For God will rescue Zion,
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
They will dwell there and possess it
the descendants of God’s servants will inherit it;
those who love God’s name will dwell in it.

Anger visits all of us, sometimes in response to persecution, misunderstanding or disrespect. We feel it for personal grievances and for meanness in the world toward the helpless.  Praying with Psalm 69 may help us, too, find our balance, as did the psalmist, so that the anger leads to wholeness rather than destruction.

Poetry: Time’s Lesson – Emily Dickinson

Mine enemy is growing old, —
I have at last revenge.
The palate of the hate departs;
If any would avenge, —

Let him be quick, the viand flits,
It is a faded meat.
Anger as soon as fed is dead;
'T is starving makes it fat.

Music: Liberty and Justice for All – Brandon Williams

As the Shadows Lengthen…

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

January 4, 2020

Click here for readings


Today, in Mercy, our Gospel invites us to stand chatting with John the Baptist and a couple of his disciples. Jesus passes by us, on his way home for the day. John points to him and says to his two friends, “He’s the Guy…don’t miss this chance to learn from him.”

When I picture myself in this passage, it is the late afternoon. The shadows, even my own, have begun to lengthen across the landscape. There is a sense that time, and with it opportunity, may be passing by. 

It is a time of day like that described by Emily Dickinson:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

We, like these disciples, are not neophytes. We have our lives; we’ve made our choices. Is it possible a New Call could come so far into the day? Is it imaginable that God could walk fresh right across the shadows falling around us, just as he did for the brave Elizabeth Seton?


Our Gospel says Yes! Yes! Yes! Every single day – Yes!

Let’s go and stay with Jesus a while in prayer to see, like Peter, what new name he might call us today, even as the shadows lengthen.

Prayers and love to you, dear Friends!

Music: Shadowlands Suite – George Fenton

This glorious music video contains slides of the great movies for which Fenton has written scores. I fear they may be a bit of a distraction from prayer, but I couldn’t resist. You may want to watch some in the New Year. (Highly recommend Shadowlands with a box of tissues.)