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

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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

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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

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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