Monday, December 31, 2012

Psalm for Sunday, January 6, 2013


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."


Discussion Quest
ions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist describes a powerful king who
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


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.


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


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.



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


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!”


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


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.


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.