Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 50 which enjoins us – from sunrise to sunset – to offer God a sacrifice of praise.


A sacrifice of praise!
It’s a phrase and concept
that pops up in scripture several times.
And it intrigues me.
What might that repeated phrase mean
for my life with God?

In our first reading, the Israelites took detailed steps to offer sacrifice to the Lord. Their efforts are summarized in this verse: 

We will do everything that the LORD has told us. 

But what is the difference between a “sacrifice of praise” and the ritualized blood sacrifice described in Exodus? 


I think of a “sacrifice of praise” as that moment in our spiritual lives when our focus shifts 

  • from “what we do to honor God” to “how God lives in us”
  • from practiced ritual to the awe of Sacred Presence
  • from my efforts to God’s fidelity
  • in other words…..
  • from me to God

At that moment, the “sacrifice” is of our natural self-absorption and self-involvement in order to free God’s presence and action through us.

It is a moment of recognition like that of John the Baptist who, busy as he had been establishing his ministry, on seeing Jesus said, “He must increase and I must decrease.


Our psalm tells us that God is faithfully responsive to such total awareness and commitment:

Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
     and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
    I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.


Our psalm moves me to this prayer:

My intention, hope, and prayer, dear God, is

  • to praise You with my life
  • to act for You in all things
  • to be Mercy in the world as You would be

May these become a sacrifice of praise to You.


Poetry: St. John’s Eve –  Malcolm Guite

Midsummer night, and bonfires on the hill
Burn for the man who makes way for the Light:
‘He must increase and I diminish still,
Until his sun illuminates my night.’
So John the Baptist pioneers our path,
Unfolds the essence of the life of prayer,
Unlatches the last doorway into faith,And makes one inner space an everywhere.
Least of the new and greatest of the old,
Orpheus on the threshold with his lyre,
He sets himself aside, and cries “Behold
The One who stands amongst you comes with fire!”
So keep his fires burning through this night,
Beacons and gateways for the child of light.

Music: Praise You – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Lord I come to you today,

With a simple prayer to pray.

In everything I do,

Let my life O Lord praise you.

Praise you, praise you, praise you

Let my life, praise you

Praise you, praise you, praise you

Let my life, O lord praise you

Lord you formed me out of clay,

And for your glory I was made.

Use this vessel as you choose.

Let my life O Lord praise you

Psalm 80: Restore Us!

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 9, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, a powerful song poem written by a desperate and suffering poet.

Psalm 80 seems to have been written as a plea for deliverance of the northern kingdom of Israel just before the Assyrian armies conquered it. The psalmist pleads with God to remember God’s earlier kindness and to restore Israel’s wholeness.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see:
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted,
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.


When I read this psalm, I hear something like the plea of a confused child, asking a parent: 

  • What happened to upset things? 
  • I thought you loved me? 
  • Why am I so afraid now? 
  • Why are you so unconcerned about my fear?
  • Please remember and give me back your love and blessings.
  • Please make things all right again.

It is a prayer not unlike my own in this time of pandemic, profound loss, and moral confusion. There is so much to be mourned in these painful times, and yet so much to be learned. This video, shared with me by a dear Franciscan friend, captures both the mourning and the hope within these past months:


As we experience the continued spread of COVID 19, coupled with confused leadership and astounding popular ignorance, a plea like the psalmist’s might arise in our own hearts.

Much about our lives on and with the Earth has been broken. Let us pray from our brokenness today. May Creation be restored to its sacred vitality. May our human family be renewed with transformed integrity and reverence for Creation and for one another.


Poetry: I Am the Vine – Malcolm Guite

How might it feel to be part of the vine?
Not just to see the vineyard from afar
Or even pluck the clusters, press the wine,
But to be grafted in, to feel the stir
Of inward sap that rises from our root,
Himself deep planted in the ground of Love,
To feel a leaf unfold a tender shoot,
As tendrils curled unfurl, as branches give
A little to the swelling of the grape,
In gradual perfection, round and full,
To bear within oneself the joy and hope
Of God’s good vintage, till it’s ripe and whole.
What might it mean to bide and to abide
In such rich love as makes the poor heart glad?


Music: You Are the Vine- Divine Hymns