Monday, December 31, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, January 6, 2013


Reflections


Psalm 72:  1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13


“All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.”


Our psalmist  speaks about a
perfect king – a king who judges
like God, governs his people with
justice, his oppressed with right
judgment.  But where is such a king
to be found?  Not likely among the
kings of Israel.


The psalm speaks of a king that is
to live as long as the sun endures,
like the moon through all generations.
So there is a mystery about him –
“He rules from sea to sea, from the
river to the ends of the earth.” 


The verses of the psalm recall for us
the Epiphany – “The Kings of Tarshish
and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings
of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.”
[as in today's Gospel].
The more we read the Psalm, the more
it tells us about the Messiah to come –
“May all kings bow before him, all nations
serve him.” 


We see the light, just as the prophet
Isaiah said we would in our 1st reading.
The mystery is revealed to us, poor in
spirit though we are:  “He rescues the poor
when they cry out, the afflicted who
have no one to help.”  This is what our
Good Shepherd, Jesus, is sent to do,
to shepherd God’s people.   This is why
we join the magi in paying homage
to our newborn King and join with our
psalmist in singing, "Blessed be the Lord;
Blessed be His glorious name."


Amen


Discussion Quest
ions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist describes a powerful king who
will
rule from sea to sea.  Yet this king stoops
to rescue the afflicted
and has pity on the lowly
and the poor.  
In what way do these verses speak
to you about
the coming of our Savior?

2.  The psalm mentions that all the kings of the
civilized world
shall offer gifts to this newly endowed
king.   Are you also inspired to bring
tribute to our
newborn Savior, and what sort of gift will you offer?




Monday, December 24, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, December 30, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 84:  2-3, 5-6, 9-10


 "How lovely is your dwelling place,

  O, Lord of Hosts!"

On this Feast of the Holy Family
of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we sing
a psalm overflowing with hope for
all Christians on a pilgrimage to the
house of the Father.   The psalm
recalls for us today's Gospel reading
where our young Lord Jesus is found
in the temple and says to his parents,
"Did you not know that I must be in
my Father's house?"  Just so for us
pilgrims who join with our psalmist
and sing, "My soul yearns and pines
 
for the courts of the Lord."  

Our destination is heaven, but because
of God's love for mankind, we do not have
to become weary in climbing to a mountain
faraway, as though it were mount Zion. 
Our pilgrimage is a journey within;
"Our hearts are set upon the pilgrimage." 

For our sake, the Word was made flesh
and dwelt among us, and all we have to do
is open our hearts and prepare to receive
our Savior, God's only son.  


For our Lord is a living God, and it is He
to whom we cry out, as our psalmist reminds
us, "My heart and my flesh cry out for the
living God."   For us, God's temple is here
on earth.  God dwells in our tabernacle;
He is present to us through the Holy Eucharist.
  
And for this we praise you Lord and join
with the anointed and say, "How lovely is
your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!" 
And we sing an Alleluia without end.


Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist speaks of a pilgrimage for those who seek
to dwell in the house of the Lord.   Tell of how your journey
is going and how far along you are in seeking the Lord.

2.  The psalm tells of a soul that is yearning for the Lord.
In what way do you also cry out for the living God?



Monday, December 17, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, December 23, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 80:  2-3, 15-16, 18-19

  
 "O Shepherd of Israel, hearken,
and come to save us."

This Psalm is a prayer to restore
Israel, and by extension to restore us,
as a scattered people of God.
The Psalm is well adapted to our
prayer during Advent.  We are a people
scattered and separated from God, and
we await His coming; He alone can
'make us turn to Him' and convert us.
 “Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear …
come to save us.”

 

Our psalmist makes a direct appeal
to God to shepherd us.  “Turn again
Lord ... attend to this vine.”  Just as
the Lord tends to His vineyard, He
protects a shoot planted by His right
hand.  The coming of Christ is intended
to revive us, restore our strength.  
As the Psalm says, “Then we will not
withdraw from you; revive us, and
we will call on your name.”

 

Where does our hope for revival
come from?  It comes from our Savior,
sent by the Lord, our cornerstone.
In Him we are restored.   “Lord of
hosts restore us; let your face shine
upon us, that we may be saved.”

 

We all need to be renewed from
time to time when our faith grows
lukewarm, when our hearts harden
due to the sins that separate us from
God.   We, like the Israelites,  need
to beg for God’s mercy, to petition
the Lord and seek his peace, the peace
that will guard our hearts and minds,
and restore us as His people.

 

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection
 

1.  The Psalm says, 'Lord, make us turn to you ....' 
Have you noticed at times when we stray off His path
how the Lord tugs at each of us so that we return to His ways. 
Give an example from your own experience.

 

2.  Our psalmist is writing about the scattered people of Israel,
but his words may apply to each of us in our separation from God.
In what way are you inspired by the Psalm's verses to repent
and seek renewal, especially during this season of Advent?




Monday, December 10, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, December 16, 2012


Reflections

Isaiah 12: 2-3, 4, 5-6


 "God indeed is my salvation."

This is a Song of Thanksgiving from the
prophet Isaiah, expressed in the language
of the Psalms.  But the prophet is also
speaking about salvation -- “God indeed
is my salvation.”  And there is more –
“With joy you will draw water from the
fountains of salvation.”


These verses speak to us of our Savior
and are in keeping with the theme of
our 1st reading, from the Book of Zephaniah, 
“The Lord our God is a mighty savior.”


And how should we feel about being saved?
We are to “rejoice in the Lord always,”
as St. Paul tells us in our 2nd Reading from
the Letter to the Philippians.


And what effect does the promise of salvation
have on us?  We draw strength from our saving
relationship with God – Isaiah says it for us,
“I am confident and unafraid.”  (Remember,
God’s perfect love drives out fear.)  Isaiah
gives us further evidence, “My strength and
my courage is the Lord.”


And where does the power come from that
is the source of our courage?   It comes from
our baptism, first with water, then from our
baptism in the Holy Spirit.  This is the good
news that John preached in our Gospel reading,
when he promised that the Christ would
baptize us with the Holy Spirit.


Finally, Isaiah reminds us, during this season
of Advent, that we are to sing praise to the Lord --
“Let the good news be known throughout all
the earth!”  We are to “shout with exultation,
for great in our midst, is the Holy One of Israel!”


Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our Response this Sunday is, 'Cry out with joy and gladness:
for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.'   Describe how
you prepare to receive Jesus inside your heart d
uring this season
of Advent.

2.  Isaiah says, 'My strength and my courage is the Lord.'   Explain
what this verse means to you, especially at this time of the year.

 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, December 9, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 126:  1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
 

“The Lord has done great things for us.”

The Psalm speaks about the joyous

return of Israel from exile and captivity.
“The Lord has restored the fortunes of
Zion.”  As we hear in our 1st reading from
the Book of Baruch, Jerusalem is to take
off her robe of misery and to put on the
splendor of God forever.  Truly,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”

But there is more -- as the Psalm says,

“The Lord has done great things for us
as well.  What could be more wonderful
than what Christ does for us, in leading
us out of our spiritual captivity in a sinful
world, to a place of splendor where the
Father dwells.  We are restored by the
Lord’s grace, and our spiritual dryness
is filled with the baptismal waters, like
the dry stream beds of the Negeb.

But we must do our part – the sowing

of tears is a time of repentance for us.
It is just as John the Baptist proclaims
in the Gospel – we must be baptized in
repentance, for the forgiveness of our sins.
And what is the sign of true repentance?
It is when one produces good fruit by
what we sow.   As the Psalm says,
“Those who go forth weeping, carrying
sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves.”

Finally the Psalm reminds us that the

truly great thing the Lord has done for us
is to send His only begotten Son to be by
our side.  Jesus’ presence is a guarantee
of a spiritual harvest that leads to our
own salvation.

Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection


  1.  Our psalmist reminds us, 'We are filled with joy,' because 
the Lord has done great things for us!   Tell of  how these verses 
speak to you during this Advent season of the arrival of our incarnate Lord.

2.  The Psalm says, 'Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.'
Describe how repentance has led to salvation in your spiritual life.

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, December 2, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 25:  4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

“Good and upright is the Lord,

who shows sinners the way.”

We are blessed to have a God

who does not disregard us.
On the contrary, He is a caring,
compassionate God, willing
to humble himself to share in
our humanity, so that we might
share in His divinity.  Who else
would have such regard for sinners,
for believers who disobey Him?

The Lord is talking to all of us here;
we are all sinners.  Jesus was criticized
for consorting with sinners, but He
replied that the sick (people like us)
are the ones who need a physician.
We are all able to benefit from the
healing power of Jesus.  As our
psalmist says, the Lord is compassionate
and loving.  All we have to do is to
humble ourselves before Him and keep
His covenant.

“Make known to me your ways, Lord;

teach me your paths.”
The prophets tell us that if we follow
the Lords way, we will  be able to turn
away from sin and avoid death.  And
how does the Lord show us the way?
By sending us His son, who is the way,
the truth, and the life!

We know that salvation is available to

us through the coming of the Messiah.
Our psalmist, David, celebrates the
coming of Christ when he says, “You
are God my savior, for you I wait all
the day long.”

And where does the power come from

to turn away from sin?  It comes from
the Lord, who “shows sinners the way.”
It is He who encourages us when our
tongues confess –
“The Lord guides the humble rightly,
and teaches the humble His way.”

Amen

 

Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our Psalm response this Sunday is, 'To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.'
As we begin the season of Advent, speak of how you are raised up
spiritually by the coming arrival of our Lord.

2.  Our psalmist petitions the Lord to make known His ways and teach
us His paths.  Tell of how you have been shown direction by the Lord
along the path of life.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, November 25, 2012, Christ the King


Reflections
 

Psalm 93:  1, 1-2, 5

 "The Lord is King, robed in majesty."


The Psalm celebrates God’s Kingdom,
in which the Lord reigns with majesty,
“girded with might.”  God revealed His
kingship when he created the world.
But it is during the end times that the
kingdom of God will be displayed in
all its glory.  This is in keeping with
our readings this week, in preparation
for our celebration of the Solemnity of
Christ the King this Sunday.

The prophet Daniel in our 1st reading

speaks of the coming of the Son of Man
during the end times.  Our 2nd reading
from Revelation is more explicit and
brings us into the picture.  Christ’s blood
frees us, and makes us into a kingdom,
where we become priests for God the Father.

The kingdom is to be ruled under the

Lord's decrees, which are firmly established,
as the Psalm reminds us.  But as Jesus says
in the Gospel, His kingdom is not of this world.
His kingdom cannot be observed.  But surely
it is among us, and most certainly, in our hearts.

Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist proclaims, "The Lord is king,
robed with majesty, girded with might."  Yet our
Lord Jesus did not seek a kingdom belonging to
this world.  Where do you find the kingdom of
the Lord?   How do you reach our mighty Lord?

2.  The Psalm says that the Lord's throne stands
firm and is everlasting.  In what way do you gain
strength from this verse?




Monday, November 12, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, November 18, 2012

 
Reflections

 
Psalm 16:  5, 8, 9-10, 11
 

“With the Lord at my right hand,
 I shall never be shaken.”

This psalm of David speaks to us

about a belief in an everlasting life
with God.  “Lord, my allotted
portion and my cup, you have made
my destiny secure.”

The psalmist takes refuge in the Lord --

“With the Lord at my right hand,
I shall never be shaken … my body
also dwells secure.”

The distress that the prophet Daniel

speaks about in our lst reading is
overcome by the assurance in the psalm
that the Lord will not abandon his
people (us).  “For you will not abandon
my soul to the netherworld, nor let your
faithful servant see the pit.”

Finally, we can understand the last

verses as a prophecy of the resurrection
of Christ, with the full expectation of the
glorious day when we will see God’s son
seated at the right hand of the Father.
“You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.”

These same verses  are quoted by

St. Peter in his speech to the Israelites
at Pentecost.  Peter also uses the psalm
as a prophecy that Jesus would be
raised up and would sit at the right
hand of the Father.  For us these are
encouraging words, with a promise
that we too can look forward to being
lifted up and spending the rest of our
days in the presence of the Lord.

The Lord promises, if we are his faithful

servants, that we will not have to see the pit;
He will not abandon us.  As David says,
this is enough to make our hearts glad
and our souls rejoice.

Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist says that he will not be shaken or disturbed
so long as the Lord is with him at his right hand.  Speak of how
the Lord enables you to be strong, so that your faith cannot be shaken.

2.  The Psalm says that the Lord will show us the path to life.
Explain what this verse means to you.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, November 11, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 146:  7, 8-9, 9-10
 

“The Lord gives food to the hungry,
sets captives free.”

The Psalm sings of the promises

of the prophets.   Just as Elijah
promised the widow in our lst reading
that she would not go hungry,
so does the Psalm promise that
the Lord will give food to the hungry.

But the Lord’s promises go far

beyond flour and oil.  His promises
are fulfilled in the arrival of Jesus,
who once and for all appears before us,
and who is that holy sacrifice that
redeems us (Hebrews, 2nd reading).

Christ carries out the promises of

the Psalm – He sets us captives free
and gives sight to us so we can truly see.

As in the Gospel and the story of

the poor widow, the Lord raises us
up when we are down.  He sustains us --
with real food and drink.

“The Lord raises up those who were

bowed down.”  We are all bowed down
because of our brokenness at one time
or another.  And where do we turn
to be lifted up and made whole again?
We turn to the Lord.  Who else has
the grace and the mercy to heal us?

The Psalm contains encouraging words

not only for poor widows but for each
of us as well.  When were we oppressed,
or hungry, or in prison?  Have we not
been under pressure from the evil one
to commit sin?  Have we not been held
captive at one time or another by our sins?
And do we not experience a hunger for
the Lord and for a deeper faith?

That same power that gives sight to the

blind and raises up those who are bowed
down is available to lift us up away
from whatever imprisons us.  All it takes
is to receive Him and open our hearts
to the Lord our Savior.

So we can pray this Psalm, not only in

honor of the heavenly Father, but also
in honor of Christ, whom God exalted.
And having done that, we can join with
the psalmist and sing, “The Lord shall
reign forever; our God, through all
generations.”

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection


1. 
Our psalmist promises that the Lord will secure justice
for the oppressed and set captives free.   In what ways have
you been imprisoned, and how has the Lord set you free?

2.  The Psalm says the Lord gives food to the hungry. 
Describe how the Lord has given you real food and drink
to satisfy your hunger for a closer relationship with Him.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, November 4, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 18:  2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
 

“The Lord Lives!”

The Psalm is saying that the Lord

is present to us, here and now, just as
He was when He delivered David
from his persecutors.

The really key revelation for us is

that the Lord lives.  He lives among us;
He is present in the Word; Jesus is
in fact the Living Word; He is present
on the inside of us through the holy
Spirit.  He is alive in the Eucharist;
He humbled himself to share in our
humanity, so that we might have a
share in His divinity!

So Jesus is alive and well, standing

by us as our “rock of refuge, our
shield, our saving horn.”  We join
with David in praising God and loving
Him with all our heart and all our mind,
as Jesus reminds us to do in the Gospel.

How do we apply the Psalm's verses to

our lives?  We turn to our Lord to equip
us for the battles that we fight against the
evil one.  Jesus becomes our fortress!

In this Psalm we hear David, crying out

to the Lord, as one cries out to his savior.
“My God, my rock of refuge, my shield,
my saving horn, my stronghold.” David
has just emerged after being saved
by God from his enemies and the clutches
of King Saul.  David has been rescued by
that same God of compassion and mercy
that spoke to Moses.

David says, “You have shown kindness to

your anointed.”  God promises to hear us
when we cry out to Him as our psalmist
does. 

David praises his savior in language that

is familiar to us as his spiritual descendents:
“The Lord lives!  Blessed be my rock!
Exalted be God my savior!”

For David has been delivered from the

forces of evil that surrounded him.
And that same deliverance is available to
us, so long as we surrender ourselves
to God and love God with all of our heart
and soul and strength.

Amen


 

Discussion Questions for Reflection
 

1.  Our psalmist exclaims, 'The Lord lives!'  Speak of how
the Lord is present to you and why you believe He is your rock,
your fortress, here and now.

2.  The Psalm makes it clear that David loves the Lord and
that the Lord is the source of his strength.  Describe your love
for the Lord and how you have been led to serve Him and
praise Him.

 



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, October 28, 2012

 Reflections

Psalm 126:  1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6


"Those who go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown, 
shall come back rejoicing, carrying
their sheaves."

The Psalm celebrates the reversal
of Israel’s fortune, and return
from exile, which could not have
occurred without God’s intervention.
The verses reflect praise for what
the Lord has done.  “The Lord has
done great things for them.”
The Lord did a great thing for
the Israelites when he “restored
the fortunes of Zion,” as the
psalmist says, and freed the
remnant from exile. 

The Psalm is also a petition asking

the Lord to look after the future
of the remnant.  And there is an
expectation that God will guide
them in achieving prosperity. 
“Restore again our fortunes,
Lord, like the dry stream beds
of the Negev.” This calls to mind
our lst reading in Jeremiah,
where God promises to lead the
remnant to brooks of water,
so that a good harvest is assured.
We too are looking for that water
which restores, and renews,
cleanses us and purifies us, that
living water which satisfies our
spiritual thirst.

The Psalm also reminds us that

the truly great thing the Lord has
done for us is to send his only
begotten son to be by our side.
Jesus’ presence is a guarantee
of a spiritual harvest that leads
to our own salvation.  Just as the
blind man in the Gospel is healed
by his own faith, the Lord promises
us a transition from a sinful existence
to a world of joy.

The Psalm says it well, “Those who

go forth weeping, carrying the seed
to be sown, shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.”  And therein
lies a lesson for us – to let go of our
own baggage, and pick up the Lord’s
burden, where we know his yoke is easy.

Whatever type of spiritual exile

may discourage us or imprison us,
Jesus shows us a way out.  God is in
the business of deliverance and
as Jeremiah confirms in our 1st reading,
we go among the blind and the lame
to the promised land. 

We carry our sacks with us and

from those seeds that we sow is
contained the promise of new life,
the reversal of whatever misfortune
may trouble us.  When the harvest
comes in, we can join with the
psalmist and sing, "Our mouths are filled
with laughter, our tongues sing for joy.”

Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The Psalm alludes to a reversal of spiritual
exile that may apply to people like us.  Tell of how
the Lord has brought you back from a time of being
distant from Him.

2.  Our psalmist suggests that we carry the seeds of
our own salvation even while we go forth weeping.
Speak of how your faith has saved you, when you
looked to the Lord for healing.




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, October 21, 2012


Reflections
 

Psalm 33:  4-5, 18-19, 20, 22

“Our soul waits for the Lord,
who is our help and our shield.”

The Psalm is written in praise
of God’s power and providence.
It is the Lord’s design for His
people that stands through all
the generations.  It is through
His Plan that we are saved.
Our own feeble efforts count for
nothing.  We must be submissive
and abandon ourselves to His Plan,
just as Jesus tells us in the Gospel.

And how do we know His Plan?
The lst reading (Isaiah) pretty
graphically outlines what God
has in mind for His son – that
he be “crushed for our offenses.”
This is how we are delivered from
death.  The psalmist has it right,
“The Lord’s eyes are upon those
who fear Him … to deliver them
from death.”

In our 2nd reading, the letter to the
Hebrews answers the question,
“How can we approach the throne
of God?”  The answer is with confidence,
and then we will find “mercy and grace.”
The theme of the Psalm is the same,
“The Lord’s eyes are upon those Who
hope for His grace.”

Because Christ humbles himself for
our sake, becomes a slave to our sin,
there is hope for us, even in our time
of spiritual famine

It is said that even people who have
no faith have a longing in their hearts
for God.  There is something missing
in their lives.  For us who are believers,
we are dependent on the Lord – we
openly ask for His help and His protection.
He is our shield in the spiritual battle
that we all have to fight.

If we trust in the Lord, His eyes will be
upon us, and we can expect to receive
His grace.  And through His grace we
are delivered from death, kept alive in
times of spiritual famine.  And for this
we praise the Lord, as the psalmist says,
we know He will fill the earth with
goodness, and His kindness will be
upon us.  The Psalm ends on a positive
note, “Lord we have put our hope in you.”

Amen
 

Discussion Questions for Reflection
 

1.  The psalmist says, 'Our soul waits for the Lord.' 
Tell of how you have a spiritual hunger for the Lord 

in your life, and explain how the Lord satisfies your longing.

2.  The psalm's verses state that, 'The eyes of the Lord are 

upon those who fear Him.'   Do you feel the eyes of the Lord 
upon you because you hold Him in awe?  Explain.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, October 14, 2012


 Reflections

Psalm 90:  12-13, 14-15, 16-17

“Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.”

The Psalm reminds us that man’s
days are numbered, and that
we should use our time wisely,
making our days and our life
count for something.  And how
do we do that?  We do it by being
open to the wisdom of God.
Just as Solomon preferred the
gift of wisdom over material wealth
(Wisdom, 1st reading), so too
do we see the advantage of using
our time wisely by doing the Lord's will.

Although we may never receive
the wisdom of Solomon that
our 1st reading talks about,
we can hope for some ability
to be detached from worldly things,
which can separate us from God.

How do we do this?  Where does
the ability come from, to cut through
all our present day concerns?
It comes from the Word –
“The Word of God is ... sharper
than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul
and spirit, joints and marrow ….”
(Hebrews, 2nd reading).

Scripture teaches us that the Word
will give us a correct view of life,
and this will allow us to have
a right relationship with the Lord.
Having got that right, we may
receive the favor of the Lord
and be counted among his sheep.
As the Psalm says, “May the favor
of the Lord our God be ours.”

How much better will our lives be
if we may sing for joy, as the psalmist
says, and be filled at daybreak
with the love of the Lord.
And having received God’s favor,
we will want to be His servants
and do His work.  We will become
laborers in the field where the
harvest is plentiful.  And as the
Psalm says, “The work of our hands
will prosper.”

Amen


 

Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The Psalm speaks about using our time wisely. 
Tell of how you set your priorities so that you are
serving God and doing His will.

2.  Our psalmist talks of how we may gain 'wisdom of heart.'
Give an example of how you are receiving wisdom
to discern a correct view of life so that you will not offend the Lord.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, October 7, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 128:  1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home.”

Our psalmist tells us that
a man who has a right relationship
with the Lord will also obtain
a right relationship with his wife
and his family.

And walking in the ways of the Lord
will be reflected in the way a man
treats his wife.  A man’s wife is after all,
“bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.”
(Genesis, 1st reading)

As Christ nourishes the Church,
so a man cherishes his wife,
and nourishes his relationship with her.
And the man’s reward is that his wife
will be like a ‘fruitful vine’ within
his house.  This is how a man is blessed
who fears the Lord.

If we have a right relationship with
the Lord, we will know how to treat
our wives and our children, and in turn,
we will discover how blessed we are
in our home and by the presence
of our family.  “Just so will they be blessed
who fear the Lord.”

Having been so favored by God,
we understand why, “A man shall leave
his father and mother and be joined
to his wife.”  God made them one flesh,
and, “What God has joined, no human
being may separate.” (Gospel)

If we fear the Lord and walk in His
ways, we will receive the blessings
of our labor, prosper in a material way,
and grow old gracefully in the company
of our wife and children.

Amen




Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist speaks of the benefits of a right relationship with the Lord.  
Tell of how fearing the Lord has led you to have a better relationship
with your spouse and your family members.

2.  The Psalm asks, "May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives." 
Recall how you have been blessed by God, both physically and spiritually,
and how you have been inspired to walk in His ways.




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, September 30, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 19: 8, 10, 12-13, 14

“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.”

This Psalm celebrates the Law
of the Lord, first given to Moses
on Mt. Sinai.  But it also tells us
what God’s Law reveals about
our Creator, and about the joy
that is stirred up in our hearts
when we follow the Lord’s commands.

If we are to imitate the divine life,
everything we need to know is found
in God’s Law.  Our psalmist David
shows us that the Law of Moses is an
instruction manual for life.  We learn
that obeying the Law does not prevent
us from being happy or limit us in
a negative way.  Instead, obeying the
Law brings much reward.
 
We are kept from willful sins
by the Law.  Obey the Law and
we will not be controlled by sin
and instead will be able to walk
as God fearing people.  We may think
of statutes as something intended to
control us or restrict us.  But as our
psalmist explains, the Law of the Lord
does the opposite – it is in fact a source
of joy, something to be desired,
because the Law gives us wisdom and
provides us with something we can trust.

“His ordinances are true, all of them just.”
Far more than a set of rules that we
cannot hope to follow, God’s commandments
refresh our souls; they give ‘wisdom to
the simple;’ they are more 'desirable than
gold, sweeter also than honey.'

It is through the  inspired Word of God
that we know His commandments
and through this Psalm that we know
His Law is a source of refreshment,
a source of joy;  His statutes do not
bind us, they set us free.

The reading of the Law should not
make us sad, but be a source of rejoicing.
Give us ears to hear!

Amen 

Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our Psalm Response this Sunday is "The precepts of the Lord
give joy to the heart."   Do you believe that the Lord's commandments
can be a source of joy, instead of a set of rules and restrictions?   Explain.

2.  Our psalmist says that the 'decree of the Lord gives wisdom to the simple.'  
Describe how God's Law inspires you to celebrate God's perfection and helps
you to imitate the divine life.




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, September 23, 2012

 
 Reflections

 Psalm 54:  3-4, 5, 6, 8


"The Lord upholds my life."

The psalm is a prayer sung by David
at a time when he was being hunted
by King Saul.  David was in great peril
at the time, threatened by the “ruthless.”
He says, “The ruthless seek my life;
they set not God before their eyes.”

We may not be threatened
by King Saul and his troops,
but we are surely under threat by satan
and his band of fallen angels.
And where does the threat come from?
Is it from outside?   Or is it from within?
For all our proclamations of trust in God,
we can sense the wavering which besets us all.  
Are we perhaps a 'Judas' ourselves?
Have we betrayed Christ?   Do we?

Just as David turns to the Lord for protection,
so too should we pray to the Lord to save us.
David sings, ”O God, by your name save me.”
For us that name is the name of Jesus.
Where else would we turn for a shield in time of battle? 
Or a sword in time of peril?
With Christ present as our helper,
we can turn back the evil which lurks within our hearts.

David writes about the the 'haughty men'
who have risen against him.   Are we one of them?
Are we one of those described in Wisdom (1st reading)
who resent the just one?  Are we part of the crowd
who condemn Jesus to a shameful death to test
if he is truly the son of God and to let God take care of him?

Are jealousy and selfish ambition lurking within us,
causing disorder and every foul practice,
as St. James warns us in our 2nd reading?
Are we like the disciples on that journey through Galilee
who were arguing about who is the greatest?

If so, then we too had better call upon the name
above all names to save us, as David does.
We had better pray that we will approach God
in proper humility and pray that we shall 'undertake to
become the last of all and the servant of all.' (Gospel)

“God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life.”
We had better receive Him;
we had better gain His peace to quiet the battle within.
We had better keep our eyes fixed on the cross;
we had better be open to rescue and redemption.

Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist is fighting against forces that threaten him;

he says, "The ruthless seek my life."   Are you aware of
powerful forces, both external and internal, that put your faith
in jeopardy?   Explain.

2.  The Psalm says, "The Lord upholds my life."  Speak of

how your life is sustained by the Lord when you are under threat
both physically and spiritually.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, September 16, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 114 (116):  1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

“He has freed my soul from death.”

It is said that Jesus sang this prayer
on the night He was betrayed, and
went to His death with these words
on His lips.

The psalm is a simple prayer of thanks
to God that the psalmist might have
used after escape from the “snares of
the netherworld,” as he called upon God,
“O Lord save my life!”

But unlike the psalmist, our Savior
does not ask to escape death; instead He
begins to teach the disciples (in the Gospel)
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and
be killed.  Jesus summons the crowd
and begins to preach on the redemptive
value of His death, saying that 'whoever
loses his life for my sake will save it.'

Once this psalm becomes the prayer of
Our Lord on the night of his Passion,
it says to us believers that there is hope
that we too will “walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.”

The prophet Isaiah (in our 1st reading)
reminds us that the suffering servant
is not disgraced, is not put to shame.
It is that same spirit of defiance in the
face of death that empowers the suffering
servant to set his face like flint, knowing
that the Lord God is his help.

Because we are little and “brought low,”
we depend on our God to “incline His ear”
to us when we call.  We cannot raise up
ourselves; we are at the mercy of God's grace. 
We cannot become divine, and therefore
God in His love for us became like us
and inclined Himself to our humanity

For this we are grateful, and we join with
the psalmist who celebrates as we do,
“For the Lord has freed my soul from death.”

Amen



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist says that the "Lord has freed my soul from death." 
Speak about how the Lord has worked in your life to give you hope
that you are saved and raised you up away from the "cords of death."

2.  The Psalm says, "The Lord keeps the little ones."  
Are you one of His 'little ones?'   Explain how by humbling yourself
you have a better chance of being pleasing in the eyes of God.


 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, September 9, 2012


Reflections
“The Lord raises up those who were bowed down.”

Our psalmist is singing about
God's promises to the oppressed,
the mute, the hungry, the prisoner, 
the blind, and those who are bowed 
down in one way or another.

We could all benefit by being set free
in the Spirit or healed so that
we are no longer mute or blinded. 
Then we too would no longer be lame,
but would be able to “leap like a stag,”
as the prophet Isaiah foresees
in our 1st reading.

The Psalm is telling us we really need
to humble ourselves if we want
to be raised up with Jesus.
That may be hard to do if it means
we have to swallow our pride
and put aside worldly concerns. 
But it we truly want to be set free
from the sins that bind us,
then we need to repent and bow down
before the Lord, accept our brokenness,
and seek his grace.
Only then will we begin to have
a right relationship with the Lord.

And where do we turn to be lifted up
and made whole again?  We turn
to the Lord.  Where else are the promises
of our God fulfilled but in the healing
ministry of Jesus, as the Gospel tells us.
Who else has the grace and the mercy
to heal us?

Christ carries out the promises
of the Psalm – He sets us captives free
and gives sight to us so we can truly see.
The Lord raises us up when we
are down – he sustains us -- with
real food and drink.

So we can pray this Psalm, not only
in honor of the heavenly Father,
but also in honor of Christ, whom
God exalted.  “The Lord shall reign
forever, through all generations.”

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection


1.  Our psalmist says, "The Lord sets captives 
free."   In what ways are you captive, and how 
has the Lord set you free?

2.  The Psalm proclaims, "The Lord gives sight 
to the blind."  In what areas of your life were 
you not able to see things clearly, and give an 
example of how the Lord has enabled you 
to regain your sight.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, September 2, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 15:  2-3, 3-4, 4-5

“The one who does justice
will live in the presence of the Lord.”

Just as Moses tells the Israelites
how to take possession
of the promised land (1st reading),
so our psalmist tells us how
we may climb the holy mountain of God
and live in the presence of the Lord. 

The way forward is twofold --
love neighbor, and love God.  
If I truly love the Lord,
then my heart will not be far from Him.   
If I love the Lord, He will remain in me;
how else would I expect my heart
to remain pure?  
When my heart is pure,
I do no harm to my fellow man;
and I think the truth in my heart. 

St. James tells us to be doers
of the word (2nd reading); 
we are to keep ourselves 
unstained by the world.  
And Jesus reminds us
in the Gospel that it all starts
from inside; it is from within
our hearts that evil thoughts reside. 
The things that come out from within
are what defile us.

So if I am right with the Lord
and my heart is close to Him,
then I will not slander with my tongue
nor take up a reproach against 
my neighbor.   Nor will I do harm
economically to my neighbor.  
If I do these things, as our psalmist says,
I shall never be disturbed,
and I will live in the presence of the Lord.

Amen

 
Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.   Our psalmist says whoever thinks the truth in his heart
will live in the presence of the Lord.   How do you go about
preparing your heart so that you are able to receive the Lord?

2.  The verses of the Psalm remind us not to slander,
nor to blame our neighbor, nor to harm our fellow man,
nor to hurt him economically.   Explain how being a doer
of the word is inspired by your love of the Lord.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, August 26, 2012


Reflections

Psalm 34:  2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

Once again we revisit this psalm
of thanksgiving.  And for the third
consecutive Sunday the Gospel
challenges us to stop murmuring
and stand up for our faith.

And the question is the same,
“Do I truly believe that Jesus
is the living bread that came down
out of heaven and that whoever eats
His flesh and drinks His blood will
remain in Him and will live forever?” 

Like Joshua, am I prepared to take
a stand and declare,  “As for me
and my household we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua commits himself and his family
to serve the Lord.  What better commitment
would there be for me, in our time?

Where would I go if I did not serve
the Lord?   To whom would I turn
without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
I thirst for Jesus and would be parched
and dry without Him in my life.
I must stop murmuring about
how difficult it may be to accept His words
and declare that Jesus is truly the Holy One of God.
Who else would hear my cry,
as our psalmist says, or confront
evildoers on my behalf ?

 “Many are the troubles of the just,
but the Lord delivers them all.”
We are all afflicted; our Spirit
may be crushed (as the psalmist says),
but “God watches over all our bones.”

“When the just cry out, the Lord hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.”
Who else would listen to my cry?
If I cry out to the Lord, He will hear me
and rescue me from all distress.
Where else would I turn?

I have the Lord as my ally
in my fight against the evil one.
And with Him on my side victory is certain.
“The Lord confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.”

So the teaching is clear – 
“Let His praise be ever in my mouth,
and let my soul glory in the Lord.”

Amen


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  If we truly serve the Lord, we can be confident
that 'He will watch over all our bones', as the Psalmist says.
Explain how your faith has given you peace and strength
in the face of your afflictions.

2.  We are engaged in a spiritual battle with the evil one
and his helpers, but our Psalmist says that the Lord
will confront evildoers and destroy them.  Tell of how
you have been able to defeat evil with the Lord on your side.




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, August 19, 2012

 
Reflections

Psalm 34:  2-3, 4-5, 6-7

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

We visit this encouraging psalm
again this Sunday perhaps because
the Lord wants us to participate fully
in the Eucharist and we need to
hear it again.  Why are the same verses
repeated?  Perhaps because they reinforce
so well the powerful message of the Gospel,
in which Jesus tells us that if we are
to be raised up with Him, we must eat
of His flesh and drink of His blood.
Perhaps because we struggle with
what Jesus says, as the Jews did at the time.
We are told that even the disciples
had difficulty accepting Jesus' words.

The message is simple, as our psalmist
reminds us – we must taste the goodness
of the Lord if we are to truly allow our soul
to glory in the Lord.  Wisdom invites us too
to obtain life by eating of her food in our 1st reading.
And St. Paul (2nd reading) cautions us
not to get drunk on wine, but be filled
with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms.

We are to feed on Jesus if we are to have life;
if we eat His flesh and drink His blood,
we will live forever.  It is His humanity
that enables us to eat of His flesh and His blood. 
And it is by the grace of God that we are thus
able to obtain a share in His divinity.  
This is far more that our ancestors' manna. 
This is truly the bread of life.

By sharing in His body and blood,
we glorify the Lord, and as our psalmist says,
we become 'radiant with joy.'
Our faces no longer blush with shame;
we are a new creation.  The Lord is among us. 
We remain in Him and He remains in us.

Amen

 
Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The Psalm reminds us of the power of
the Eucharist.  We must taste the goodness of the Lord
if we want to be delivered from all our fears.  Speak of
how the Eucharist raises you up physically and spiritually.

2.  Our psalmist encourages us to 'glorify the Lord' and
to 'let our soul glory in the Lord.'   Explain how your faith
has enabled you to draw closer to God by being filled
with the Spirit.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reflections

Psalm 34:  2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

What does Jesus tell us to do in this week’s Gospel?
Taste his flesh and see that we will have life.
However difficult Jesus’ words may have been
for the Jews to accept (or for us), 
the psalmist is right  --
“Blessed the man who takes refuge in Him.”
Where else would we turn when we are in distress?
“When the afflicted man called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.”
Just as the Lord answered Elijah
and delivered him from his despair,
so He delivers us from whatever
has bogged us down spiritually.

“My soul will glory in the Lord,
that the poor may hear and be glad.”
The word poor is said to apply to one
who depends completely on God
for his deliverance and his very life.
That’s where Elijah stood that day
in the early stages of his long journey,
totally dependent on God for the strength
to walk the walk that was planned
for him (1st reading).
And if the truth were to be known,
that’s where we stand even today,
when we are short of endurance
along our spiritual journey.

The psalmist recounts for us
how he gained deliverance,
“I sought the Lord, who answered me,
delivered me from all my fears.”
Despite the anguish in the psalmist’s voice,
there is also a powerful, joyful spirit –
“Look to God that you may be radiant with joy,
And your faces may not blush with shame.”

Where does our joy come from?
How do we obtain a joyful spirit?
It comes from repenting and returning to the Lord.
Only then can we be embraced by the Lord.
Having humbled ourselves before Him,
confessed our sins, He takes us back.

He watches for us each day,
encouraging us.   He reconciles us
and restores us in a right relationship with the Father.
And He provides the inner strength we need
to complete our own spiritual journey.

Amen

 
 Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist tells us how to obtain a joyful spirit,
"Look to the Lord that you may be radiant with joy."
Describe how the Lord has given you inner joy in the
course of relieving you from your afflictions.

2.  The Psalm says that the angel of the Lord 'encamps'
around those who fear Him and delivers them.  
Speak of how your faith has been a source of strength and deliverance
in the face of difficulty or persecution.