Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, September 30, 2012


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!


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


 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.


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


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.”


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

“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.”


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.