Psalm 119: A Living, Tender Love

Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

October 3, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119 – the longest psalm, as you might remember from one of my seven previous reflections on this rich piece of scripture.

From that wealth, we pluck this one pearl today:

I focus on this phrase to bring our attention to a beautiful document issued by Pope Francis on September 30th, the feast of St. Jerome: APOSTOLIC LETTER – SCRIPTURAE SACRAE AFFECTUS (Devotion to Sacred Scripture)

In this letter, our Holy Father describes scriptural devotion as “a living and tender love”. As we pray the scriptures each day, we ask that Love to form and instruct our hearts.

Lord, let your face shine on me.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.

Pope Francis’s letter is an interesting exposition on the life and spirituality of Jerome sixteen hundred years after his death. I enjoyed reading it. But what I benefitted from most was the Pope’s encouragement to school our own hearts in a passion and pursuit of scripture. We can all learn from Francis’s words such as these:

This present anniversary can be seen as a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself. 

How can we not heed, in our day, the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: “Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand”?

A radiant example of this is the Virgin Mary, evoked by Jerome above all as Virgin and Mother, but also as a model of prayerful reading of the Scriptures. Mary pondered these things in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19.51) “because she was a holy woman, had read the sacred Scriptures, knew the prophets, and recalled that the angel Gabriel had said to her the same things that the prophets had foretold… 

She looked at her newborn child, her only son, lying in the manger and crying. What she saw was, in fact, the Son of God; she compared what she saw with all that she had read and heard”. Let us, then, entrust ourselves to Our Lady who, more than anyone, can teach us how to read, meditate, contemplate and pray to God, who tirelessly makes himself present in our lives.

Music: Word of God Speak – Mercy Me

The Word

Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

October 3, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Ezra and Nehemiah gather all the People for a gargantuan spiritual renewal! It is the People themselves who request this renewal, realizing that they have drifted from the Law and desiring to ritualize their return to it.

It seems fitting that this reading comes just after the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashana (from sundown on Sunday, September 29 until sundown on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.) This feast marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days.

For more on these biblically rich celebrations, click here.


One of the lessons Christians can take from today’s passage is awareness of the great power and gift of God’s Word. Ezra’s community was changed by listening to that Word with open, repentant hearts.

word of God

In our Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out to preach that Word, now transformed by the power of his Incarnation. He tells them to preach that “the Kingdom of God is at hand!”

Just this week, Pope Francis has taken steps to rekindle our appreciation of the Word. By declaring the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God, our Pope wants to help us grow in love and devotion to Sacred Scripture.

(Personally, I welcome this focus. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was a new and deepened awareness of the gift of Sacred Scripture. As a young religious, that awareness was central to my spiritual formation. Since that time, there seems to have been an unfortunate shift away from that emphasis. I see the Pope’s declaration as a welcome corrective to that shift.)

Pope Francis has designated the day “to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God “ so as to help the Church “experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world’.

May we gratefully respond!

(See below the music : If you are interested, I have copied a very good excerpt from Pope Francis Apostolic Letter.)

Music: We Come to Hear Your Word – Chris Jubilee

Below is an excerpt from the Pope’s Apostolic Letter APERUIT ILLIS -INSTITUTING THE SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD. I found it to be helpful in understanding the Pope’s intent with this feast:


With this Letter, I wish to respond to the many requests I have received from the people of God that the entire Church celebrate, in unity of purpose, a Sunday of the Word of God. 

It is now common for the Christian community to set aside moments to reflect on the great importance of the word of God for everyday living. The various local Churches have undertaken a wealth of initiatives to make the sacred Scripture more accessible to believers, to increase their gratitude for so great a gift, and to help them to strive daily to embody and bear witness to its teachings.

The Second Vatican Council gave great impulse to the rediscovery of the word of God, thanks to its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, a document that deserves to be read and appropriated ever anew. The Constitution clearly expounds the nature of sacred Scripture, its transmission from generation to generation (Chapter II), its divine inspiration (Chapter III) embracing the Old and New Testaments (Chapters IV and V), and the importance of Scripture for the life of the Church (Chapter VI). 

To advance this teaching, Pope Benedict XVI convoked an Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2008 on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”, and then issued the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, whose teaching remains fundamental for our communities.[1] That document emphasizes in particular the performative character of the Word of God, especially in the context of the liturgy, in which its distinctively sacramental character comes to the fore.[2]

It is fitting, then that the life of our people be constantly marked by this decisive relationship with the living word that the Lord never tires of speaking to his Bride, that she may grow in love and faithful witness.

Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity.

The Word is Near You

Sunday, March 10, 2019

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Mt4_4 Word

Today, in Mercy,  our reading from Romans tells us:

The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart.

How is the Word of God near us, with us? 

Certainly, our sincere study and prayer with scripture is one way. Sitting quietly with scriptural passages, letting them speak to us, inviting them to inform our lives is a life-giving discipline.

Sometimes, we might choose just one word or phrase from a beloved reading, turning it over and over, gently in our prayer. How has this precious word informed our lives, inspired us, called us, comforted us? How is it speaking to us in this moment?

As we move more deeply into the “words” of scripture, we move closer to the Word – the Incarnate God. John writes: 

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.

Perhaps today in our prayer, we can commit ourselves to a deepening love of scripture, of the Word given to us there.

In his book, “ The Bible Makes Sense”, Walter Bruggemann says this:

The Bible is not an “object” for us to study but a partner with whom we may dialogue. It is usual in our modern world to regard any “thing” as an object that will yield its secrets to us if we are diligent and discerning. And certainly this is true of a book that is finished, printed, bound, and that we can buy, sell, shelve, and carry in a briefcase or place on a coffee table…[But] reading the Bible requires that we abandon the subject-object way of perceiving things… [If we do,] the text will continue to contain surprises for us, and conversely we discover that not only do we interpret the text but we in turn are interpreted by the text… We may analyze, but we must also listen and expect to be addressed.

Music: Word of God Speak – Mercy Me