Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
September 21, 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, one of the unique “Torah Psalms” (1, 19, 119) in which Israel celebrates the divine structure of life in all Creation, including ourselves.
James Luther Mays, in his article The Place of the Torah-Psalms in the Psalter, suggests that these psalms serve as a guide to how all the other psalms are to be read, interpreted and prayed.
Walter Brueggemann describes life without God as “normless” – without the structure of grace and relationship with God that holds all Creation in abundant Life. He refers to the Torah as a “norming” dynamism, and writes:
And when Israel … used the term “Torah” (never meaning simply or simplistically “law”), it refers to the entire legacy of norming that is elastic, dynamic, fluid, and summoning. The outcome of that legacy in the Psalter is the great Torah Psalms in which Israel celebrates, with joy, that the creator God has not left the world as a normless blob but has instilled in the very structure of creation the transformative capacity for enacted fidelity. That is why Psalm 19 juxtaposes the glory of creation that attests the creator (vv. 1–6) with the commandments that are the source of life.
Our verses today for the Feast of St. Matthew include this phrase…
Their message goes out through all the earth.
… perhaps equating the universal ministry of the Apostles to the transformative power and witness of the heavens to God’s immutable glory.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
The teaching of the Apostles is codified for Catholics in the Apostles Creed. We might want to pray it slowly today, attentive to those “norming ” beliefs – our sort of fundamental “Torah” – which hold our lives in graceful relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell;
the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven,
and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty;
from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.
Poetry: XIX Caeli Ennarant by Malcolm Guite
In that still place where earth and heaven meet
Under mysterious starlight, raise your head
And gaze up at their glory: ‘the complete
Consort dancing’ as a poet said
Of his own words. But these are all God’s words;
A shining poem, waiting to be read
Afresh in every heart. Now look towards
The brightening east, and see the splendid sun
Rise and rejoice, the icon of his lord’s
True light. Be joyful with him, watch him run
His course, receive the gift and treasure of his light
Pouring like honeyed gold till day is done
As sweet and strong as all God’s laws, as right
As all his judgements and as clean and pure,
All given for your growth, and your delight!
Music: Wonderland – David Nevis