Monday, April 16, 2018

Psalm for Sunday, April 22, 2018

Reflections




"Take refuge in the Lord."

















This Sunday's Psalm is an Easter song. 
The psalmist speaks of our Savior, our 
cornerstone.  Our Savior is Jesus, and 
though He appeared weak and beaten 
on the cross, He became victorious over 
death.  The psalmist speaks of that same 
irony, “The stone rejected by the builders 
has become the cornerstone.” 

The Psalm tells us we are to, “Take refuge in 
the Lord.”  Though mortals may disappoint us, 
the Lord will not leave us discouraged.
Better to take refuge in the Lord than to put 
one's trust in princes.  Little children know 
instinctively whom to trust -- they know where 
the love is coming from.  And we are the same; 
as children of God, we put our trust in the Lord.   
He is the Good Shepherd.  
Where else would we turn?

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of 
the LORD.”  It is none other than the Good 
Shepherd who comes in the name of the Lord,
to care and protect us sheep.  (See also today's 
Gospel, John 10:11-18).
Our calling is only to listen for His voice and 
to follow Him.  Who else knows us as He does, 
or is willing to lay down his life for us?

The psalm recalls for us the paschal mystery 
of Christ, who is crucified, resurrected,
and then exalted as the capstone of our faith.
God has shown his love for his people -- 
Jesus’ risen presence among us
is living proof of God’s enduring love.
Our psalmist confirms this, “God’s love 
endures forever.”
The Lord’s deliverance is cause for joy.
God’s love is empowering, as the psalm 
suggests, this is how we pass from death to life.

We may not have been one of those who 
saw Christ after He rose from the dead, 
but He is no less real to us.   There is no doubt 
that God's divine intervention 
was at work in Christ’s resurrection.  
As the psalmist says, we know,
“By the Lord has this been done, 
it is wonderful in our eyes.”


Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection
  

1.  Our psalmist reminds us more than once to trust God, not mortals or princes.   

Even though you may not have seen the Lord in person, do you have any difficulty 
trusting in one you have not seen?   Explain.

2.  The Psalm says, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'   This verse 

is used in scripture to welcome Jesus.   Discuss how you have welcomed Jesus 
into your life.



Monday, April 9, 2018

Psalm for Sunday, April 15, 2018


Reflections




“The Lord does wonders for his faithful one.”


















This Sunday's Psalm is about trust in God.
Our psalmist, David, is filled with desire 
for God's mercy, and invites us to pray, 
“When I call, answer me;
O my just God, hear my prayer.”
David reminds us the Lord works wonders 
for the faithful,
“The Lord does wonders for his faithful one.”

Part of keeping our faith must surely be 
keeping our Lord’s commandments, 
as we are reminded to do in this Sunday's 
second reading,
“Whoever keeps his word, the love of God 
is truly perfected in him.” (1 John 2:5)
What more could we ask for?
Is it necessary that the risen Jesus 
show us his hands and feet,
or that we touch his flesh and bones 
as in Sunday's Gospel?  (Luke 24:39-40)

Our psalmist reminds us it is inside our hearts
where the Lord’s presence does the most good.
“You put gladness into my heart.”
If our hearts are made clean, and our sins 
are forgiven by the Easter sacrifice and 
Resurrection of God’s only Son, 
who or what can stand in our way?

What the Lord Jesus has done for us 
will give rise to action on our part.
For just as the disciples were witnesses
of what came to pass more than 2000 years ago, 
so too are we called to witness for the Lord.
We are called to keep his word, 
and to open our minds, so that we too can
better understand the scriptures. 
We ask the Lord, “Let your face shine on us.”
And then we must go about doing his work!

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our Psalm Response this week is, "Lord, let your face shine on us." 
What does it mean to you the have the 'light of His countenance' shine 

upon you?

2.  Our psalmist repeatedly petitions the Lord to answer him and 

to hear him.   Have you also prayed as David did for the Lord to hear 
your prayer?   What has been the result?




Monday, April 2, 2018

Psalm for Sunday, April 8, 2018

Reflections




“By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.”

Once again we visit this powerful 
psalm of praise and thanksgiving. 
This time the verses stress the 
enduring love that God has for us –
so much so that despite the part 
we played in crucifying his Son, 
God went ahead and carried out 
His plan to save us.  Jesus’ risen 
presence among us is living proof 
of God’s enduring love.
“God’s love endures forever.”

We may be 'hard pressed and 
falling,'  but the Lord comes to 
our help. As the psalmist says, 
the Lord is our strength.  He is 
present to those of us who are
in need of healing,  just as He 
was in those early days of the 
church described by St Luke in 
this Sunday's first reading (Acts 4:33), 
and in Sunday's Gospel  (John 20:19-23)

We may not have the awesome 
experience that St Thomas had when 
he physically put  his hand into the 
Lord’s side and his fingers into the 
nail marks on Jesus' hand, 
but our Savior is with us.  

“The Lord has become my savior.”
We are victorious over death.
The Lord’s deliverance is cause 
for joy.  Just when we were down, 
the Lord raises us up.
“I was hard pressed and falling,
but the Lord came to my help.”

“The joyful shout of victory is heard.”
We are on firm ground after all – 
Christ has become our cornerstone, 
as our psalmist reminds us.
Christ has become a source of strength 
for us, despite His apparent weakness 
that day on the cross,
when He died a shameful death.   

Only the Lord could have done this 
remarkable thing:
“By the Lord has this been done; 
it is wonderful in our eyes.”
This is cause for rejoicing --
“This is the day the Lord has made.”
Along with the disciples and the early 
church, “Let us be glad and rejoice in it.”


Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection 

1.  Our psalmist praises the Lord because the stone that was rejected has 

become our cornerstone.  Why do you think God would permit his Son to 
undergo a shameful death in order to make Jesus the cornerstone of our faith?

2.  Our psalm begins by stressing over and over that the mercy of God endures 

forever, and this Sunday's Response also says, 'His love is everlasting.'  Describe how these verses strengthen your faith and inspire you to trust in the Lord.



Monday, March 26, 2018

Psalm for Easter Sunday

Reflections


“I shall not die, but live.”

Today's Psalm is an Easter song that 
marks the procession of the pilgrims 
going up to Jerusalem for the feast 
of Tabernacles.  The Psalm begins 
with a call to praise that starts the 
procession,  
“Give thanks to the Lord, for
His mercy endures forever.”

Israel is continuously put to the test, 
humbled and then delivered.
In so doing Israel discovers its 
calling to be a people of God 
and to bear witness to the nations.

Jesus makes this calling his own, 
and in the Psalm we read prophetic 
verses that recall the paschal mystery 
of Christ, who is rejected and then 
exalted, and who becomes the 
foundation stone of the new people 
of God,  
“I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.”  

As the psalmist says, “The right hand 
of the Lord has struck with power; 
the right hand of the Lord is exalted.”
Our days of mocking our Savior are over; 
we no longer hurl insults at him.  
“The stone the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone.”
Our Savior has risen.  
“By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.”


Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection


1.   Our Response is, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad."  

On this Easter Sunday, explain what is the basis of your joy and gladness and how 
your life is affected by our Risen Savior.

2.  Our Lord, rejected by the 'builders' of his time, has become the 'cornerstone' of 

our lives.   What does it mean to you to build your faith on the resurrection of Jesus?



Monday, March 19, 2018

Psalm for Passion Sunday, March 25, 2018


Reflections




“They have pierced my hands 
and my feet.”

David writes this psalm almost 
as though it were planned to be 
part of the Passion of Christ.
It is as though David knew what 
was coming.  The Psalm's theme 
is that the sufferings of the 
righteous man will restore life 
to humanity.

Indeed the Psalm becomes the 
prayer of Christ at the time of His 
crucifixion and speaks of the 
suffering that our Savior 
experienced on our behalf,
“My God, my God, why have 
you abandoned me?”

People are the same today as they 
were back then, when Jesus was being led to the cross.  
We scoff at him; 
we mock him; we wag our heads; 
and hurl insults at him.

Why?  
Because he becomes contemptible in our eyes.  
He reminds us that we are a sinful people; 
He convicts us; He catches us in the lie; 
He embarrasses us; He exposes us; 
He accuses us of being hypocrites.  

He holds us to a higher standard;
He speaks directly to God; 
He claims to be God's Son,
and we reject him for this, and mock him.  
We do not move to assist him. 
Let God rescue him, 
“He relied on the Lord; let God deliver him;
 let God rescue him, if he loves him.” 

These are the same words used by those who conspired 
against Jesus when he was dying on the cross.  (Mark 15: 31-32)
They did not realize that the suffering and death 
of an innocent servant would restore life for sinful man.  
The words they spoke were to be fulfilled, not by Jesus 
coming down from the cross, but by sinful humanity like us 
being delivered, forgiven, and lifted up.  

The psalm describes the Passion of Christ, and we know 
that what seemed like a moment of weakness for Christ
became a source of strength for the rest of us.  
God reverses this righteous man’s condition –
“But you, O Lord, be not far from me; 
O my help, hasten to aid me.”

Hope returns, the righteous man is delivered.
And he celebrates his deliverance--
“I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: 
You who fear the Lord, praise him.”
Because Jesus humbled himself and accepted death 
on the cross, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed 
on him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9)

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The psalmist speaks of those who scoff at him and mock him. 
 In what way can you identify with those who scoff at our Savior
 and mock him with parted lips? 

2.  The Psalm Response is, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"   

Why do you think our Lord would have uttered these words at the time 
of his Passion?  What had changed for God's son?  Had God changed?




Monday, March 12, 2018

Psalm for Sunday, March 18, 2018


Reflections
 
Psalm 51:  3-4, 12-13, 14-15   (Read)


“Create a clean heart in me, O God.”                                                                         
















This Sunday's Psalm is David’s mea culpa  
and is written after Nathan calls attention 
to David’s adultery with Bathsheba.  We are 
shown in the Psalm that although David was 
chosen by God to be king, even David sins 
gravely.  But God in His compassion and 
goodness can blot out David’s offense, 
no matter how grave.

David realizes that only God, in His mercy,
can cleanse David from his sins.
  David’s sins, 
like our own, are offensive to God first and 
foremost; we are all born of a sinful nature.
David calls on the Lord to blot out his offense,
knowing that the Lord, in His abundant 
compassion, will wash away his guilt.

David’s words are a prayer of repentance and recall 
for us the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“A clean heart create for me, O God; renew within me 
a steadfast spirit. Give me back the joy of your salvation.”
Where else can we turn when we are separated from God?
Who else has the healing power to cleanse us?

“Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me 
your Holy Spirit.”  David reminds us that without the Holy 
Spirit we are ruled by the desires of this world.  And without 
the Holy Spirit we cannot bear the fruits of the Spirit,
which we are called to do.

The people of Jeremiah’s time were given the assurance 
that David sought. They were assured that the Lord would 
forgive their evildoing, their own infidelity to God, and that 
their sin would be remembered no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)
On David's part we can almost hear his loud cries and see 
his tears, as he offers this psalm as prayer and seeks his 
own inner renewal.  When Christ was in the flesh, this is 
how He himself prayed, as we are reminded in Sunday's 
second reading. (Hebrews 5:7)

David prays that God will create for him a clean heart,
because God alone can bring about this transformation.
We, too, are called to seek our Savior’s mercy for our sinful 
ways, especially during this Lenten season.  We, too, are 
given an opportunity to be restored in the joy of His Salvation, 
to offer up what is dead within us, so that we can again bear 
fruit and be good witnesses for the Lord. (John 12: 24)
In that way, we will then teach the wicked, 
God's ways,  
and our mouths will proclaim His praise.

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist King David cites the greatness of the Lord's compassion in calling 
upon God to wipe out his offense.  Even though David was an adulterer and 
a murderer, he knew that he could call upon the Lord to restore him and create 
for him a clean heart.   Does this give you confidence that no matter how serious 
your sins may be, you can call upon God to be thoroughly cleansed?   Explain.

2.  As our psalmist implies, it is not enough to call upon God to create a clean 
heart within us.  We must also ask for a steadfast spirit, for the Holy Spirit to be 
sustained within us.  Tell how the Holy Spirit is working within you and what you 
are inspired to do through the gifts of the Spirit.