Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, March 4, 2012


Psalm 116:  10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

This Psalm is one Abraham might have recited when he was called on to sacrifice his son Isaac.  
“I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving …
I will  pay my vows to the Lord.”
Who else could have kept the faith at a time like that?  Yet Abraham’s devotion to the Lord did not waver.
We may not be called upon to offer up so heavy a sacrifice,

but we are commanded to listen to God’s son, and to imitate him.

Abraham may have used words like those of  our psalmist,
“I believed even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.”
God relented and provided a substitute for Isaac,
“Too costly in the eyes of the Lord is the death of the faithful.”
But as for his own Son, God did not spare him,
as St. Paul reminds us in our 2nd reading.

And for whom did God sacrifice his son Jesus?
It was for us that God handed over his beloved Son.
Jesus’ death on the cross has given us life –
As people of faith we are chosen by God for life.
We pray that we are not led to the test as Abraham was,
but we might at least, as the Psalm says,
“Pay our vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.”

The psalmist says,
“O Lord, I am your servant …  you have loosed my bonds.”
 We too are made free by becoming the Lord's servant.
That is how it is when we follow his commandments
and do his will.  
It is not something that binds us.
Rather, it is something that sets us free.
We take delight in serving the Lord.


Discussion Questions for Reflection 

1.  Our psalmist speaks of the power of his faith, even in the darkest of times, 
"I believed, even when I said, 'I am greatly afflicted.'"   Give an example of
 how your faith has strengthened you in difficult times.

2.  The Psalm says, 'O Lord, I am your servant ... you have loosed my bonds.'   
Explain how it is that, having been freed from your chains, you wish to serve 
the Lord and become yoked to Him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, February 26, 2012


Psalm 25:  4-5, 6-7, 8-9

The Psalm is a prayer for forgiveness and guidance,
a good way to begin the season of Lent.
The same covenant the Lord made with Noah (1st reading) gives comfort to David, who calls out, “Remember your compassion and love, O Lord, for they are ages old ...
Good and upright is the Lord, who shows sinners the way.”

Later in the psalm David begs the Lord, “Have pity on me …
put an end to my affliction and suffering, take away all my sins.”
Who else could take away our sins but God’s son,
the righteous one who suffered for us, the unrighteous ones,
as Peter reminds us in the 2nd reading.
Peter says Baptism doesn’t remove the dirt from our bodies;
it doesn’t remove our sinful nature.
But it does allow us to receive the holy Spirit within us,
because without the Spirit,
we are powerless against the Devil.

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 come to share in his divinity. 
Who else would have such regard for sinners,
for believers who disobey him?
It is He who encourages us when our tongues confess –
“The Lord guides the humble rightly,
and teaches the humble the way.”

Our Lord Jesus tells us what we are to do
as we prepare for the most important season of the year: 
“Repent and believe in the Gospel.” 
Our response is – David said it years before --
“You are God my Savior.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our Psalm speaks of being taught by the Lord
("teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me;
he teaches the humble his way.")   Are you a good student of the Lord?
Tell about what you have learned or are learning from the Lord. 

2.  According to our psalmist, the Lord "shows sinners the way." 
As we enter the season of Lent, we could all use some guidance
and help as we strive for repentance and to be bolder in our faith. 
Explain what you will do during Lent to become a more obedient
Christian and a better witness for your faith.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, February 19, 2012


Psalm 41:  2-3, 4-5, 13-14

This psalm of David may apply
to each one of us at some point in our lives.  
We too have our moments
when we feel down, “lowly and poor,” as the psalm says.

We can’t always depend on our neighbors
or even our families to lift us up, or make our burdens light.
Where do we turn for mercy at times like these?  
We turn to the Lord.  
Who else can we turn to when we are in the pit and our
fellow human beings turn the other way?
The Psalm says, “the Lord will keep and preserve us,”
he will deliver us.  
“The Lord sustains us on our sickbed.”  

And who do we turn to for the forgiveness of sins,
which is the first step to spiritual and physical recovery?
We turn to the Lord.
Who else stands ready to forgive our sins?  
As Isaiah says in our 1st reading,
the Lord “remembers our sins no more.”

In the psalm David appeals to the Lord for mercy –
“Lord have pity on me,
heal me, I have sinned against you.”  
For us, our appeal is to our savior, Jesus,
who will do for us what he did for the paralytic
in this week’s Gospel  --  heal us physically and spiritually.  
And having received that grace from our Lord,
as the psalm says, we will want to
“stand in his presence forever.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The Psalm speaks about the need for healing
when one has sinned against the Lord.  Our psalmist says
the Lord will help the sinner on his sickbed.   Do you believe
that being in a state of sin is the same as being afflicted with a sickness?
If so, who is the physician that will take away your ailment
and how do you get him to cure you?

2.  Our psalmist seeks to stand in the Lord's presence forever.
He also suggests that he will be restored from his misfortune
because of his regard for the weak and the lowly.  
Does this remind you of the regard that our savior Jesus
also had for the weak.  What do you have to do to be able
to stand in the Lord's presence for all eternity?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, February 12, 2012


Psalm 32:  1-2, 5, 11

This Psalm is one of David’s penitential psalms.
David sings out about the heaviness of his sin,
that weighs upon him so long as he keeps silent.
The Psalmist’s sins were hidden in his heart.
Then when he declares his sin, and confesses his faults,
his burden is lifted and his guilt is taken away.

David’s sins may not have been so obvious
as the sores on the lepers described in this
Sunday's lst reading from Leviticus.
But like those same lepers,
David was compelled to cry out “unclean, unclean”
and to seek God’s forgiveness in order to be healed.
Just as David threw himself on the mercy of the Lord,
so did the leper in today's Gospel who knelt before Jesus
and moved the Lord to pity.

The leper  in the Gospel was shouting for joy
after he was made clean.
The same thing can happen to us
when we receive the sacrament of confession
and we are made clean inside.
We may not be joyful for the same reasons as the leper,
but as Jesus says, it is what is inside our hearts
that needs to be purified.
And having been cleansed from within,
we really have something to be joyful about.

We are all pitiful in the sight of Christ,
but once on our knees,
having confessed and repented of our sins,
there is hope for us sinners whose sin is forgiven.
As it says in the Psalm,
“Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.”

We all need a spiritual cleansing from time to time
if we are to obtain a pure heart.
They say confession is good for the soul
and from what we know from the Psalm,
confessing our faults will  lead us
to be glad in the Lord and rejoice.


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  This Sunday's Psalm Response is, "I turn to you, Lord,
in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation."
Tell of a 'time of trouble' in your life when you turned to the Lord,
confessed your faults, and were filled with the 'joy of salvation.'

2.  Our psalmist is grateful for God's gift of forgiveness;
having confessed his sin before God, he is a new creation
thanks to the grace of God.  Give an example of how your
anxiety over your sin ceases when you bow down
and confess your faults to the Lord.