Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27 which pivots around two themes:

  • the first theme in verses 1-6: God’s infinite power and our convinced hope in God’s protection 

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27: 4-5

  • the second theme in verses 7-14: a confession of faith and a call to perseverance 

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27: 13-14

The psalm follows so well on our reading from Thessalonians in which Paul calls upon that community to:

trust
hope
believe
persevere

These practices are the linchpins of a vibrant faith. They hold us fast to God’s heart, allowing us to live in God’s house – and God in ours.


Our Gospel today shows us that it is certainly possible for dark spirits to take up residence in our hearts. Praying a prayer like Psalm 27 puts a watchman on our heart’s door, inviting the Holy One alone to live at our core.


Poetry: Covenant – Margaret Halaska, OSF

God
knocks at my door
seeking a home for his son.

Rent is cheap, I say.

I don’t want to rent. I want to buy, says God.

I’m not sure I want to sell, 
but you might come in and look around.

I think I will, says God.

I might let you have a room or two.

I like it, says God. I’ll take the two. You might decide to give me more some day. 
I can wait, says God.

I’d like to give you more, 
but it’s a bit difficult. I need some space for me.

I know, says God, but I’ll wait. I like what I see.

Hm, maybe I can let you have another room. 
I really don’t need that much.

Thanks, says God, I’ll take it. I like what I see.

I’d like to give you the whole house 
but I’m not sure …

Think on it, says God. I wouldn’t put you out. 
Your house would be mine and my son would live in it. 
You’d have more space than you’d ever had before.

I don’t understand at all.

I know, says God, but I can’t tell you about that. 
You’ll have to discover it for yourself. 
That can only happen if you let me have the whole house.

A bit risky, I say.

Yes, says God, but try me.

I’m not sure – 
I’ll let you know.

I can wait, says God, I like what I see.

Music: Psalm 27 – Marc Antoine Charpentier

This Latin chant is noted here as Psalm 26 which would have been its designation in the Vulgate translation of the Bible in Charpentier’s era.)

Monday of Holy Week

Monday of Holy Week


March 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27 which is a cry for help from one who is confident of God’s care.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Despite these verses, the psalmist obviously is afraid, otherwise why pray? As we begin Holy Week, we might imagine Jesus voicing such a prayer. Confident of the Father’s participation in his life, Jesus nevertheless must face daunting realities with courage – but not without fear.

We can learn so much from Jesus in this.

It is a very unusual, and perhaps non-existent, person who has no fears. We all fear something… maybe many things. It is human to fear that which we cannot see, control, or withstand. Even the one touting his great fearlessness is likely afraid of being seen as weak.

What Jesus teaches us is not to let our faith, love and hope be dominated by fear; rather, to engage our lives courageously with these three virtues despite our normal human fears. In so doing, we become the person God hopes for us to be, just as Jesus did.


Who would I be,
and what power would be expressed in my life,
if I were not dominated by fear?

Paula D’Arcy

The triumph is in resisting that domination, not in being fearless. Nelson Mandela has written, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.


I think Jesus was afraid during these final days of his life, but he pushed through to the truth of God’s Will for his life. We can ask Jesus to help us in our fears by praying as he might have with Psalm 27:

You are my light and my salvation
   Whom then shall I fear?

You are the strength of my life
  of what shall I be afraid?

Trials, enemies, changes, difficulties—
  they rise up and they resolve

Therefore–
   I will trust you
   I will wait for you
   I will seek you.

transliteration of Psalm 27 by Christine Robinson

Poetry: from T.S. Eliot, Four Quartet, East Coker

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away--
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing--
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Music: Be Still My Soul – Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, born 1697

Psalm 27: Unchained Psalmody

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

February 5, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, a song of intimate relationship with God. The psalmist is suffused with God’s Presence in the way morning light permeates the shadows.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid? 

Psalm 27:1

Because of this deeply abiding Love,  the psalmist fears nothing – not armies, nor any other threat to peace and grace-filled confidence.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
    even then will I trust.

Psalm 27:3

We have little, or maybe big, wars at times, don’t we? Armies of pain, or sadness, struggle or confusion standing at the border of our hearts? In such times, Psalm 27 invites to remember and trust:

For God will hide me in the holy abode
    in the day of trouble;
will conceal me in the shelter of God’s tent,
    will set me high upon a rock.

With the psalmist, we pray with longing – we implore God to show us this comforting, protective love.

Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
    do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.


Poetry: from The Spiritual Canticle – John of the Cross

Oh, then, soul, 
most beautiful among all creatures, 
so anxious to know 
the dwelling place of your Beloved 
so you may go in search of him 
and be united with him, 
now we are telling you that 
you yourself are his dwelling 
and his secret inner room and hiding place. 
There is reason for you to be elated 
and joyful in seeing that all your good and hope 
is so close as to be within you, 
or better, that you cannot be without him. 
Behold, exclaims the Bridegroom, 
the kingdom of God is within you.

Music: Unchained Melody – sung by Susan Boyle

Psalm 27 reminds me of this modern classic which, no doubt, was written about a different kind of love. But listening to the song as a prayer, a holy longing can be unchained in our spirits.

Psalm 27: Can We Love Like This?

Wednesday after Epiphany

January 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we once again pray with Psalm 27, we do so in the light of our seminal first reading from John:

God is love, 
and when we remain in love 
we remain in God 
and God in us.

1 John 4:16

How can we love like that?

Psalm 27 tells us how God does it:

For the Lord rescues the poor who cry out,
and the afflicted who have no other help.
The Lord has pity for the lowly and the poor;
and saves the lives of the poor.

Psalm 27: 12-13

Our psalm gives us the measure for love in our lives. Who are the suffering ones in the circle of our experience? How are we widening that circle to offer loving mercy with greater energy and fidelity?


The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy can be our guide as we seek to stretch our love in ever-widening circles.

The Corporal Works of Mercy

To feed the hungry
To give water to the thirsty
To clothe the naked
To shelter the homeless
To visit the sick
To visit the imprisoned, and ransom the captive
To bury the dead


The Spiritual Works of Mercy

To instruct the ignorant.
To counsel the doubtful.
To admonish sinners.
To bear patiently those who wrong us.
To forgive offenses.
To comfort the afflicted.
To pray for the living and the dead.


Poetry: Widening Circles – Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

Music: The Mercy Song – Paul Alexander

Psalm 27: How to Wait!

Friday of the First Week of Advent

December 4, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27 with its glorious opening salvo:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Of whom should I be afraid?


 Psalm 27 reminds us that, amidst all the fluster of life, there is only one thing that matters:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

Psalm 27:4

The hard part, as the psalmist tells us, is to wait – not just to wait for heaven at the end of it all – but to wait to discover God in each moment. 

I find waiting to be pretty challenging, especially when I’m waiting for something over which I have no control.

Sometimes God seems pretty buried in our lives and in the clamor of the world. It’s tough to wait with hope when we just can’t see the Beloved.


But our psalm charges us to practice hopeful waiting for the grace that comes to us in every moment.

May we wait with courage, hope, and confidence for the gift God eternally gives us.


Poem: from Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth by Walter Brueggemann 

In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.

And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.

Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.

Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edge of our finger tips.

We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case and make all things new.
Amen.

Music: Waiting – by Isisip

Psalm 27: Waiting with Faith

Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop

November 4, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, a brilliant testimony of faith and trust.


As you know, I write each day’s reflection on the preceding morning. As I write today, most polls have not opened. The political fate of the US remains hidden in a future yet unfolded. And yet you will be praying with this reflection on a morning when at least some of that fate will be known.

What to say then that will hold meaning no matter how the chips fall? The question was causing me some consternation until I opened to our psalm. 


God has an infinitely bigger view of reality than any one of us! And our psalm invites us to live in that “blessed assurance” despite the shifting exigencies of our lives.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?


Will the election outcome matter to me tomorrow when I wake up to pray? You’re darn right it will! But there is a foundational truth that matters far beyond the day’s circumstances:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate God’s eternal Presence.


Indeed, it is toward that hope that all our life’s energy must be directed. No matter who emerges victorious from the election, we must continue to work for a world where every person enjoys the bounty of the Lord.

Today I hope and pray for leaders who work with us, not against us, in that pursuit. In any case though, let us pray for courage to continue, with God’s grace, to build a “land of the living” for all God’s people.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.


Poem: Trust by Thomas R. Smith

It’s like so many other things in life   
to which you must say no or yes.                                    
So you take your car to the new mechanic.   
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.   
The package left with the disreputable-looking   
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,   
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—   
all show up at their intended destinations.   
The theft that could have happened doesn’t.   
Wind finally gets where it was going   
through the snowy trees, and the river, even               
when frozen, arrives at the right place.                        
And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life   
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

Music: Blessed Assurance sung by James Ingram

“Blessed Assurance” is a well-known Christian hymn.The lyrics were written in 1873 by writer Fanny Crosby who was blind. The melody was composed by Fanny’s friend Phoebe Knapp.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Psalm 27: Seek God’s Face

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

October 1, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27 – and gosh, did I need it!

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

I woke up this morning still half sick from watching last night’s “debate”. I fully agree with this estimation from Jon Meacham:


“No hyperbole: The incumbent’s behavior this evening
is the lowest moment in the history of the presidency
since Andrew Johnson’s racist state papers.”


(Jon Meacham, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Meacham holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Endowed Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University)


I care about how my country’s leadership has degenerated. I care about how that collapse affects all of our lives especially poor, sick, and marginalized persons. It is painful to witness a situation where leadership suffers from an egregious forfeiture of responsibility and care for anything but its own self-interests.

It’s very hard to find prayer’s central clarity
when a dysfunctional world spins around us.
I asked myself today,:
“Can Psalm 27 help me?
Can the Little Flower shed some light for me?”.


Psalm 27 is a prayer that moves from relentless hope to deeply rooted faith. It is a remedy I crave.

Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek!


Walter Brueggemann places great emphasis on verse 27:3 and the particular word “though”….

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me,
even then do I trust.

Bruggemann says this:

I suggest that the psalm pivots in verse 3 on the word “though,” which is an act of defiance. It is a bold and brave “nevertheless, notwithstanding”…
… This “though” is a well-grounded, adamant refusal to participate in the anxiety that is all around.


St. Thérèse of Lisieux wasn’t into “politics” as we commonly define the term. But her life in the abbey presented a good deal of human “politics” which challenged her spiritual growth. Here are a few quotes that I plan to pray with today to invite their blessings on my own anxieties, and to listen for where they might call me to hope, trust and faith, as well as productive, not fretful, action. You might like to do the same.

My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience. 
― The Little Way for Everyone Day: Thoughts from Thérèse of Lisieux

Joy is not found in the things which surround us, but lives only in the soul. 
― The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

It is wrong to pass one’s time in fretting, instead of sleeping on the Heart of Jesus. 
― ibid.


In place of a poem today, this tidbit about Psalm 27 from Pope John Paul II:

The faithful know that being consistent creates ostracism and even provokes 
contempt and hostility in a society that often chooses to live under the banner 
of personal prestige, ostentatious success, wealth, unbridled enjoyment. 
They are not alone, however, and preserve a surprising interior peace in their hearts because, as the marvellous “antiphon” that opens the Psalm says, 
“the Lord is light and salvation… the stronghold of life” (cf. Ps 27: 1) of the just. 
He continuously repeats: “Whom shall I fear?”, “Of whom shall I be afraid?”, 
“My heart shall not fear”, “Yet I will trust” (cf. vv. 1, 3).
JOHN PAUL II- GENERAL AUDIENCE
Wednesday, 21 April 2004

Music: The Lord is My Light and My Salvation – Haas and Haugen 

Refrain: The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid?

The Lord is my light and my help; whom should I fear?The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom should I shrink?

There is one thing I ask of the Lord; for this I long;
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living;
hope in him and take heart, hope in the Lord!

The Land of the Living

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

November 7, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our scripture passages are all about confidence in our salvation.

Psalm27- land of living

Do you ever wonder if you’re going to get to heaven? Maybe even worry about it a little? If so, today’s readings are for you.

Paul tells the faithful:

For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

And Jesus, using the symbol of a lost sheep, counsels the critical Pharisees:

I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

Key to both readings is the call to a repentant, Christian life.

Our beautiful Responsorial Psalm captures the joy of the repentant sinner, the very ones for whom Christ died:

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

We might want to turn toward the searching Shepherd today while praying this Psalm of repentance and faith.

Music:  In the Land of the Living – Eric Becker

Our Laboring Mother

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Tuesday, September  3, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Paul again affirms the faith and prudence of the Thessalonians:

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well
that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.

He paints a dire picture of those “times and seasons”, likening them to the onset of labor pains. But like a mother’s labor, these pains ultimately yield life:

For God did not destine us for wrath,
but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So Christ, our Laboring Mother, delivers us – even through seasons of suffering and evil – to a new day. And we – we are the midwives to one another’s salvation:

Therefore, encourage one another
and build one another up,
as indeed you do.

This honest encouragement is so essential for us in our faith communities because, without it, the mystery of suffering and evil overwhelm us. 

Ps27_13

It is both awesome and fearsome to truly encounter Mystery. In its presence, we are rudderless: we cannot explain, control, or humanly rationalize it. Mystery can only be comprehended by greater Mystery. Suffering can only be plumbed by the greater Mystery of Love.

And we know Love’s Name: Jesus by Roc O’Connor (Lyrics below)

Refrain:

Jesus, Jesus
Let all creation bend the knee to the Lord.

1. In Him we live, we move and have our being;
In Him the Christ, In Him the King!
Jesus the Lord.

2. Though Son, He did not cling to Godliness,
But emptied Himself, became a slave!
Jesus the Lord.

3. He lived obediently His Father’s will
Accepting His death, death on a cross!
Jesus the Lord.

One Thing I Ask

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, both Jesus and Paul continue to instruct us on the Christian life. Paul, writing from a distance to his beloved Philippians, encourages them to hold fast to the teachings he gave them when he was with them. We can sense, in Paul’s tone, an awareness of his impending death. There is a “last advice” urgency in his words.

Ps27_one thing

The same is true of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospel. He is driving home the point that, with God, it must be all or nothing. We can’t be half-hearted, “sometimes” disciples.

His words fall hard on our sensibilities.

If anyone comes to me
without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.

Really? Hate? In a Gospel which is always Love, from a man who is himself Love, what can this really mean? 

For me, the passage says that we can let nothing hold us that would turn us from God – even if that might be as dear as beloved family. It means that our one core desire must be that of the Psalmist:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze
on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

What we love, cherish and choose should reveal God’s heart to us, not obscure it. If that’s not the case, we have some tough choices to make, just like Jesus’s listeners in today’s Gospel.

Music: One Thing I Ask, One Thing I Seek