Psalm 110:Through Paul’s Lens

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

January 27, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 110, but through the lens of our first reading from Hebrews.

We have prayed with this psalm a few times recently, exploring its links to priesthood, ministry, and good old Melchizedek. When I saw it again this morning, I was at little exhausted by it. Then I read Hebrews and got a new perspective on Psalm 110.

For by one offering Christ has made perfect forever 
those who are being consecrated.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:
    This is the covenant I will establish with them
        after those days, says the Lord:
    “I will put my laws in their hearts,
        and I will write them upon their minds,”

Hebrews 10:14-16

This passage from Hebrews is a testament to Jesus Christ, the ultimate High Priest, the Complete Melchizedek. That which Christ sanctifies or consecrates is us – his Body, the Church.

This consecration places in our hearts the covenant once spoken of by Jeremiah:

See, days are coming says the LORD—
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.
They broke my covenant, though I was their master.
But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days.
I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:31-33

Praying with Psalm 110 in this light, I give thanks for the Covenant expressed in my own life:

  • for my Baptism into Christ,
  • for the grace to witness to Christ’s law of love
  • for my inclusion into Christ’s ongoing ministry through the Holy Spirit

Poetry: The Covenant Prayer of John Wesley (1703–1791)

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

Music: A New and Living Way – Michael Card

Year after year there the priest would stand
 An offering of blood held out in in his hand
 Before the curtain there he would stand in fright
 It hung there to hold in the holy ~ to keep in the light
 
A new and living way
 Through the curtain that was torn
 The climax of the cross
 The moment our hope was born
 By a new and living way
 
 And when time was full another Priest came to save
 He would offer forgiveness for He was the Offering He gave
 From the sacrifice ~ from that dark disgrace
 Came the power to make anywhere a Most Holy Place
 
 A new and living way
 Through the curtain that was torn
 The climax of the cross

Psalm 110:

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 20, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 110, familiar from last week. Its use again today reminds us that our readings, early in the liturgical year, are focused on the emerging ministry of Jesus and what his “priesthood” or ministry teaches us about God.

Psalm 110 is a David psalm affirming God’s choice and support of David as God’s shepherd and king of the Israelites. David’s leadership is through a “priesthood” beyond that of lesser religions and deities. David has inherited the same blessing as Abram, delivered by the arcane figure of Melchizedek.

The LORD has sworn, and will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110: 1

Abram Meets Melchizedek – Peter Paul Rubens

Psalm 110 is the only other reference in the Hebrew Scriptures to Melchizedek, first described in Genesis 14. In Genesis, Melchizedek comes out of nowhere to bestow a blessing on Abram.

As our first reading from Hebrews describes him:

Melchizedek’s name first means righteous king,
and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace.
Without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or end of life,
thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Hebrews 7: 1-3

Jesus is the new Melchizedek, the human expression of God’s Blessing. As our Gospel reveals, his “priesthood” – his ministry – will supersede the Law with love. His “righteousness” will be defined by mercy not statute.


Through our Baptism, we share in the ministry of Jesus. We are graced to live a new righteousness of love and mercy. We are called to bring a blessing to the world in the name of Christ.

Let us rejoice then and give thanks
that we have become not only Christians,
but Christ himself.

Augustine of Hippo: Tractates on the Gospel of John

The blessing of Melchizedek was a confirmation to Abram that he was uniquely loved and chosen by God. Our ministry to others should confirm them in the same blessing, calling both them and us to full life in Christ, our High Priest.

Yours is sacred power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.

Psalm 110: 3

Poem: Melchizedek – John Henry Newman
(This poem tapped into the loneliness Newman felt as he was away from home for an extended period of time.
THRICE bless’d are they, who feel their loneliness;
To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene
Brings aught on which the sadden’d heart can lean; 


All that was left for the ageless Melchizedek was to seek “His presence, who alone can bless.” Newman, who had been at sea for almost a month, was keenly aware of the pains of absence. He saw in his longing for home an analog of the deeper longing for the presence of God at the heart of his being. Newman, like Melchizedek, was lost in foreign lands for what seemed like several lifetimes.
( – Rev. Michael T. Wimsatt, in his dissertation Ecclesial Themes in the Mediterranean Writings of John Henry Newman (December 1832-July 1833))


Thrice bless’d are they, who feel their loneliness; 
To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene 
Brings that on which the sadden’d heart can lean; 
Yea, the rich earth, garb’d in her daintiest dress 
Of light and joy, doth but the more oppress, 
Claiming responsive smiles and rapture high; 
Till, sick at heart, beyond the veil they fly, 
Seeking His Presence, who alone can bless. 
Such, in strange days, the weapons of Heaven’s grace; 
When, passing o’er the high-born Hebrew line, 
He forms the vessel of His vast design; 
Fatherless, homeless, reft of age and place, 
Sever’d from earth, and careless of its wreck, 
Born through long woe His rare Melchizedek.


Music: The Spirit of the Lord Is Upon Me – Marty Goetz

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
For the Lord has anointed me, yes the Lord has anointed me
He sent me to preach good news to the poor
And to bind up the broken in heart
To proclaim His freedom to all who are bound, all who are bound

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
For the Lord has anointed me, yes the Lord has anointed me
He sent me to preach the year of His grace 
And that vengeance belongs to our God
And to comfort all those who mourn and who grieve, all those who grieve

To give them beauty for ashes, for mourning the oil of joy
And for the spirit of sorrow the garment of praise
And they will be called the trees of righteousness
Planted by God’s own hand that He may be glorified.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (And I will greatly rejoice in the Lord)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (And my soul shall exult in my God)
For the Lord has anointed me, yes the Lord has anointed me
He sent me to preach good news to the poor and to bind up the broken in heart
To proclaim His freedom to all who are bound, all who are bound.

And I will greatly rejoice in the Lord and my soul shall exult in my God
For He’s clothed me with garments of His salvation 
And wrapped me with robes of His righteousness
Yes upon me is the Spirit of the Lord, Upon me is the Spirit of the Lord
He’s anointed me with the Spirit of the Lord

Psalm 110: A Chasuble of Justice

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 18, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 110 where we are re-introduced to Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in Genesis 14.



Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
The LORD has sworn, and will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110: 3-4

And our two readings today show us Jesus, the one High Priest, through whom we are fully redeemed.

In the days when he was in the Flesh,
Jesus offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Hebrews 5: 7-9

It is so appropriate to consider the meaning of priesthood as we commemorate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. In the image of Christ, Dr. King wore a chasuble of justice for our time.

A priest is one :

  • who is set apart
  • who mediates the Divine
  • who bears witness
  • who ministers
  • who offers sacrifice
  • who transforms through prophetic hope

As a Catholic priest vests with the chasuble for Mass, this prayer is said:

Domine, qui dixisti:
Jugum meum suave est et onus meum leve:
fac, ut istud portare sic valeam,
quod consequar tuam gratiam.

Lord, you have said:
My yoke is sweet and my burden is light.
Grant that I may carry your yoke well
so as to obtain your grace.

Indeed, Martin Luther King “carried the yoke well”
to obtain the grace of justice for all of us.


Poetry: two poems in which the poet, Margaret Walker, uses the persona of Amos the Prophet to describe Martin Luther King. One poem is written before, and one after, Dr. King’s assassination.

Amos, 1963 – Margaret Walker – 1914-1997

Amos is a Shepherd of suffering sheep;
A pastor preaching in the depths of Alabama
Preaching social justice to the Southland
Preaching to the poor a new gospel of love
With the words of a god and the dreams of a man
Amos is our loving Shepherd of the sheep
Crying out to the stricken land
“You have sold the righteous for silver
And the poor for a pair of shoes.
My God is a mighty avenger
And He shall come with His rod in His hand.”
Preaching to the persecuted and the disinherited millions
Preaching love and justice to the solid southern land
Amos is a Prophet with a vision of brotherly love
With a vision and a dream of the red hills of Georgia
“When Justice shall roll down like water
And righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Amos is our Shepherd standing in the Shadow of our God
Tending his flocks all over the hills of Albany
And the seething streets of Selma and of bitter Birmingham.

Amos (Postscript, 1968)

From Montgomery to Memphis he marches
He stands on the threshold of tomorrow
He breaks the bars of iron and they remove the signs
He opens the gates of our prisons.
He speaks to the captive hearts of America
He bares raw their conscience
He is a man of peace for the people
Amos is a Prophet of the Lord
Amos speaks through Eternity
The glorious Word of the Lord!

Music: American Dream – Bobby Womack