Psalm 72: Endow Our Leaders in Justice

Thursday after Epiphany

January 7, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with another glance at Psalm 72. The verses offered us today jarred me when I first read them. And then they began to speak, even shout, to my spirit.

Praying with the Psalms will not benefit us
if they do not speak to our experience.
Today, Psalm 72 clearly spoke to mine.

I am outraged that my country finds itself continually at the edge of violence and unrest solely on the bidding of one to whom we have entrusted our well-being.

I am beyond sick of normalizing the outrageous irresponsibility of Donald Trump. The sickness has seeped into my prayer and my peace. It causes me sleepless concern for my country and our world.

As I pray Psalm 27 today, I seek a grace from its ancient words. I seek a blessing for our own time.

O God, with your judgment endow the leaders,
    and with your justice, those who legislate;
Let your people be governed with justice
   and your afflicted ones with mercy.

Psalm 72:1-2

As we move through these final fractious days of a deeply disturbing presidency, let us pray for civility, justice, honor, and peace not only for America but for all throughout the world who depend on our integrity.


Poetry: Beclouded by Emily Dickinson

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.
A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

Music: Be a Blessing (Psalm 72) Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Psalm 72: Governed with Mercy

Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop

January 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 72 which will be familiar to us because it is used six times throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Psalm 72: 1-2

This short post-Epiphany season is all about “manifestation” – how Jesus begins to show us the face of God-become-flesh.

The core message, conveyed to us in the daily progressive reading of 1 John, is that God is Love.


Our Gospel today, the feeding of the 5000, shows how that Love is expressed – merciful action for those in need.

Our psalm, written a thousand years before Christ, exults in the expectation of such a merciful Messiah:


The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Let us begin once again, in this new year,
to soak in the words and images
describing this longed-for and loving Savior.


Poetry: When Little Was Enough – Irene Zimmerman, OSF

(LUKE 9:10–17)

“Send the people away from this deserted place
to find food and lodgings,” the twelve urged Jesus,
“for the day is advanced and it is almost evening.”

Jesus looked at the crowd (there were about five thousand)
and looked at his disciples, still excited and tired
from their first mission journey.

What had they learned from the villagers of Galilee
who shared bread and sheltered them from cold night winds?
What had they learned of human coldness on the way?

He remembered the pain in his mother’s voice
as she told of his birth night when they found no room
in all of Bethlehem, House of Bread.

“You give them something to eat!” he said.

“We have only five loaves and two fish!” they protested.
“How can we feed so many with so little?”
He understood their incredulity.

They had yet to learn that a little was enough
when it was all they had—
that God could turn these very stones to bread.

“Have the crowd sit down in groups of fifty,” he said.
Jesus took the food and looked up to heaven.
He blessed it, broke it, gave it to the disciples
to distribute to the new-formed churches.

Afterwards, when everyone was satisfied,
the twelve filled twelve baskets of bread left over—
as faith stirred like yeast within them.


Music: Justice Shall Flourish – Rory Cooney

The Epiphany of Our Lord

January 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, and on this glorious feast, we pray with Psalm 72.

It is a gorgeous psalm that fills our senses with lights, and scents, and the tactile experience of an ancient and sacred world:

  • we inhale the flower of justice
  • wrap ourselves in its profound peace
  • gaze on a distant, moonless universe
  • stretch our prayer from sea to sea,
  • and our praise to the ends of the earth

We see the ancient nations gather in homage,
carrying the gems, spices and bounty of their homelands.

We, too, kneel in astounded wonder that this vulnerable child, 
hidden in the far reaches of both geography and imagination,
carries to us the Promise of the Ages.

We, too, trust the star, rising in our own hearts.


Psalm 72 echoes our beautiful first reading from Isaiah, another masterpiece that, in itself, is enough simply to read and savor:

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  
Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.

Isaiah 60: 1-2

In Isaiah, these magnificent verses follow two chapters of gloom and darkness. They break forth in true epiphany to say, “Your Light has come!” – now your life must begin to shine as well.

Epiphany is not simply about kings and camels. It is not simply about a  crèche and a star. 

It is about Divine Revelation hovering over our dailyness. It is about us, opening our eyes in faith and responsiveness to our ever-present God.

The feast of Epiphany reminds us:

Look at your life today.
The star did not pass you by.
Open your eyes and find it.
Once you have seen it,
live in its Light.

Poetry: The Journey of the Magi – T.S. Eliot

Eliot wrote the poem after his conversion to Anglicanism ( He had been a Unitarian.) The poem conveys his struggle to grow in the light of his new faith. The “journey” is life-long and demanding in a world that often  contradicts that faith.

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.


Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.


Music: The People that Walk in Darkness – Bob Dufford, SJ

The people that walk in darkness 
 have seen, have seen a great light.
 And on those who dwell in endless gloom, 
 a light has shone.
 
Refrain: 
For a Child is born this day: 
Rejoice, rejoice.
Daughter of Zion, awake. 
The glory of God is born.
 
And they shall name Him counselor, 
shall call Him mighty God.
And He shall rule from age to age: 
Prince of Peace.
 
Refrain
 
Darkness covers the earth; 
thick clouds govern its pe0ple.
But the Lord will bring them light; 
the Lord will bring them light.
 
Refrain
 
The people that walk in darkness 
have seen, have seen a great light.
And on those who dwell in endless gloom, 
a light has shone.
 

Refrain

Psalm 72: Justice Shall Flower

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

December 1, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 72 which sings with Advent expectation and hope. How beautiful to hear its tones once again and to realize that God has carried us through another year.

With Psalm 72, God tells us it is time to begin again – and this time, because of all the past year has taught us, to more fully abandon our hearts to the fidelity God promises. 

Our God and King comes eternally to us
in new waves of revelation.
God’s faithful promise continues
for whatever the coming year unfolds.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Psalm 72: 1-2

Our psalm invites us to see Creation as God sees it, an eternal relationship which endures in peace even beyond the moon’s final setting. That eternal promise brings profound peace. God, who is Infinite Mercy, loves us beyond boundaries, beyond circumstance, beyond time.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Psalm 72: 7-8

Jesus is the Promise Fulfilled. In him, Infinite Mercy enfleshes justice for the humble and poor.

He shall rescue the poor one who cries out,
and the afflicted when there is no one to help.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.

Psalm 72: 12-13

Advent patiently teaches us to recognize such salvation and peace. It is not revealed in miracles, but rather in the enduring power of hope, trust and gratitude. Jesus is our salvation and peace. The cyclic retelling of his life, death and resurrection invites us to deepen our own journey once again this Advent.

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Psalm 72: 17

Poetry: Advent Calendar by Rowan Williams, a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012.

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

Music: O Come, Divine Messiah
Words: Abbé Simon J. Pellegrin, 1663-1745
English Translation of French Carol “Venez Divin Messie”
Translator: Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND
Melody: 16th Century French Carol

The English translation of “Venez, divin Messie” beginning “O come, divine Messiah” is by Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND, the name in religion of Mary Frances Lescher (1825-1904). She was one of the first English members of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when they established their training college at Mount Pleasant in Liverpool, England, in about 1850. She and at least one other SND sister wrote both translations and original hymns and songs over the course of their long professional lives.

from John Uhrig’s letter to Douglas D. Anderson, Founder of the website “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas”