Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 50 which enjoins us – from sunrise to sunset – to offer God a sacrifice of praise.


A sacrifice of praise!
It’s a phrase and concept
that pops up in scripture several times.
And it intrigues me.
What might that repeated phrase mean
for my life with God?

In our first reading, the Israelites took detailed steps to offer sacrifice to the Lord. Their efforts are summarized in this verse: 

We will do everything that the LORD has told us. 

But what is the difference between a “sacrifice of praise” and the ritualized blood sacrifice described in Exodus? 


I think of a “sacrifice of praise” as that moment in our spiritual lives when our focus shifts 

  • from “what we do to honor God” to “how God lives in us”
  • from practiced ritual to the awe of Sacred Presence
  • from my efforts to God’s fidelity
  • in other words…..
  • from me to God

At that moment, the “sacrifice” is of our natural self-absorption and self-involvement in order to free God’s presence and action through us.

It is a moment of recognition like that of John the Baptist who, busy as he had been establishing his ministry, on seeing Jesus said, “He must increase and I must decrease.


Our psalm tells us that God is faithfully responsive to such total awareness and commitment:

Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
     and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
    I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.


Our psalm moves me to this prayer:

My intention, hope, and prayer, dear God, is

  • to praise You with my life
  • to act for You in all things
  • to be Mercy in the world as You would be

May these become a sacrifice of praise to You.


Poetry: St. John’s Eve –  Malcolm Guite

Midsummer night, and bonfires on the hill
Burn for the man who makes way for the Light:
‘He must increase and I diminish still,
Until his sun illuminates my night.’
So John the Baptist pioneers our path,
Unfolds the essence of the life of prayer,
Unlatches the last doorway into faith,And makes one inner space an everywhere.
Least of the new and greatest of the old,
Orpheus on the threshold with his lyre,
He sets himself aside, and cries “Behold
The One who stands amongst you comes with fire!”
So keep his fires burning through this night,
Beacons and gateways for the child of light.

Music: Praise You – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Lord I come to you today,

With a simple prayer to pray.

In everything I do,

Let my life O Lord praise you.

Praise you, praise you, praise you

Let my life, praise you

Praise you, praise you, praise you

Let my life, O lord praise you

Lord you formed me out of clay,

And for your glory I was made.

Use this vessel as you choose.

Let my life O Lord praise you

Psalm 50 Redux: Sacrifice of Praise

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 13, 2020

I have no past reflection on today’s readings since in 2016 they came on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and in 2018 on the Feast of St. Benedict – both of whom I chose to highlight on those days. So here is a reflection from the Creighton University archives:


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray again with Psalm 50. Today’s passage is what I call the “empty words” section where God leaves no doubt about what does and does not please him.

Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?


We all know people who talk a good game about religion but they’re mean, selfish, and miserable to be around (present company excluded of course 🙄) And we all know people who actually distort religion to promote themselves while debasing and marginalizing others.

In Psalm 50, God says, “Cut it out!”. God doesn’t want burnt offerings or empty words. God wants “a sacrifice of praise”. So what exactly might that mean?


Walter Brueggemann, in talking about the similar Psalm 51, describes a sacrifice of praise like this:

It must be an intimate, yielding act of trustful submission of “spirit and heart,” not “sacrifice and burnt offerings”. The speaker (psalmist), now situated in glad praise, can imagine an intimacy and communion in which contact between God and self is available and in which the distinction between the two parties is clear and acknowledged—God in splendor, the self in “brokenness”.


When we pray from a humble understanding such as Bruggemann describes, our souls open to God’s love for us and for all Creation. We move from being the center of an insecure, self-absorbed universe to seeing ourselves in inextricable communion with all Life whose Center and Source is Love itself.

The one that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to the one who goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.


Poetry: one of mine today.

Praise
is the place
where I am lost
in You,
the exchange 
that
has only 
You speaking
without sound, with nothing
but my awed
silence.

Music: Alvin Slaughter – Sacrifice of Praise

Lord I lift a song of worship
For Your glory and Your grace
Let my heart reveal all my words fail to say
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
(Repeat)
On the mountains, in the valley
As I wait in my secret place
I will trust,trust in the name of the Lord
Now receive this sacrifice of praise
Now receive this sacrifice of praise
You're my shield You're my shelter
From the storm and from the rain
Cover me beneath the shadow of Your wings
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah to Your name
For all You've done
You are and evermore will be
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
Of praise
Of praise----