Monday, February 25, 2013

Psalm for Sunday, March 3, 2013


Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11


“As the heavens tower over the
earth, so God's mercy towers
over those who fear Him.”


Our psalmist sings the praises
of a divine and loving God,
who surrounds us with compassion,
pardons our sins, heals our ills.


God will deliver us as He delivered
the Israelites from their affliction
at the hands of the Egyptians (1st reading).
“God delivers your life from the pit,
surrounds you with love and compassion.”


God nurses no lasting anger;  He has
not dealt with us as our sins deserve.
But God demands something of us
in return – that we cleanse ourselves
from evil desires and avoid sin.
St. Paul warns us, “Whoever thinks
he is standing secure should take care
not to fall.” (2nd reading).  Jesus says
it more powerfully in today's Gospel,
“If you do not repent, you will all perish.”


The Lord’s patience with us is a gift –
“Merciful and gracious is the Lord,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness.”
Our duty is to remain faithful to the Lord,
as His children, and to treat His anointed ones
with love and compassion, as He would do.


We are to be merciful to our enemies by
imitating Jesus.  Who can love their enemies,
and do good to them?  It will be difficult if
we allow our earthly nature to rule us.
Just as “God has not dealt with us as our
sins merit,” so must we have compassion
on those we may be inclined to condemn.


We cannot imitate God without a share
in Christ’s divinity, by allowing the Holy
Spirit within us to guide us.  Only then
will we have the kind of compassion the
Psalm speaks about.


And as our psalmist says, God’s love will
tower over us if we are his faithful.
If we love the Lord, it will show in our hearts,
and the old things will then pass away. 
What could be a better lesson for our
Lenten journey.



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist assures us that God in His compassion
will redeem our life from the 'pit.'  But we must do our part
and show repentance.  Describe how during Lent you are
becoming kinder and more merciful to your family and your neighbors.

2.  The Psalm inspires us to bless the Lord and 'forget not all
His benefits.'  Speak of your gratitude for the gifts you have received from God.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Psalm for Sunday, February 24, 2013


Psalm 27: 1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14


“Come, says my heart, seek God’s face;
Your face, Lord, do I seek!”


Our psalmist, David,  puts into words
what we feel in our hearts, which is
to seek a right relationship with
the Lord.  We are drawn to the Lord;
we wish to speak to Him face to face,
to be in His presence, to listen to
His Word, and to serve Him faithfully.


We may not have the faith of
Abraham (1st reading), but we know
that a right relationship with the Lord
is key for us, because without that
face to face relationship, we have
little chance of salvation.  Our psalmist
knows the critical importance of salvation:
“Do not forsake me, God, my savior.”


Few of us will be able to speak directly
with God, but God makes himself
accessible through His Son, Jesus,
as described in St  Paul’s letter to the
Philippians (2nd reading).  St Paul promises
that our own bodies will be changed,
to conform with Christ’s glorified body.
This is how our own transfiguration
takes place.


What can we do to be sure we share
in Christ’s glory?  St Paul tells the
brothers in Philippi, “Stand firm in
the Lord.”  And our psalmist agrees:
“Wait for the Lord, take courage,
be stouthearted, wait for the Lord.”


What better way for us to stand firm
in the Lord than to commune with Him
in prayer, to worship Him, to be
transformed by Him, as were those disciples
that day when Jesus was transfigured
on the mountain.  Having been transformed,
we, like the disciples, will be emboldened
in our faith -- 'Of whom should I be afraid?' 
In our day to day battles against evil forces,
we need not fear any one, for He is our refuge.



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist seeks God's face.  Does your heart seek
a right relationship with the Lord?  Speak of how you are drawn
to the Lord and how He makes himself accessible to you.

2.  The season of Lent can be a time of transformation for us.  
But we cannot change our hearts by ourselves; we all need
the Lord's help, as does our psalmist, 'You are my helper;
cast me not off.'   Tell of how you are becoming a better person
with the help of the Lord.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Psalm for Sunday, February 17, 2013


Psalm 91: 1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15


“Whoever clings to me I will
deliver; whoever knows my
name, I will set on high.”


This is a Psalm about God’s
protection of the faithful --
it applies to us who place ourselves
under His protection along the
path of life.  The psalmist addresses
us, “You who dwell in the shelter
of the Most  High, say to the Lord,
'My refuge and fortress.”


Who could be in greater distress
than the Israelites (1st reading),
under the oppression of the Egyptians.
What the Lord did for them He is
prepared to do for us.  “He brought us
out of Egypt with his strong hand
and outstretched arm.”


In today's Gospel even the devil
respects the power of God and His
commitment to our security, when
he tempts Jesus with this verse of
the Psalm, “For God commands the
angels to guard you in all your ways.”


And how do we obtain this level of
protection amidst the snares along
the way and the 'terror of the night?'
We call upon the Lord, and we trust
in Him to deliver us.  “Whoever clings
to me I will deliver; whoever knows my
name I will set on high.”


St. Paul has a similar message in
Romans, “Everyone who calls on the
name of the Lord will be saved.”
The psalmist agrees and concludes,
“All who call upon me I will answer;
I will be with him in distress; I will
deliver and give him honor.”
What could be more reassuring than that?



Discussion Questions for Reflection
1.  Our psalmist speaks about God's angels
guarding us in all our ways.   Give an example of
how you have been borne up upon the hands of
angels and given power physically or spiritually
to trample down the devil and his minions.

2.  In the Psalm God says that if we cling to Him,
He will deliver us and set us on high.   Tell of what
it means to you to 'cling' to the Lord, and having done so,
how have you been made free from evil that threatens you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Psalm for Sunday, February 10, 2013


Psalm 138:  1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8

"Lord your love endures forever,
never forsake the work of your hand.”

Our psalmist David composed
this prayer of a grateful heart.
“I will give thanks to you,
O Lord, with all my heart.”
The seraphim in our 1st reading
(Isaiah) cry out in a similar tone,
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of
hosts, all the earth is filled with
His glory,”

David is grateful because his
petitions are answered by the Lord.
“For you have heard the words
of my mouth.”   The Lord's answers
to David's prayers have come at a
critical time, a time when our
psalmist is seeking to build up
his strength.

David  speaks of a divine rescue --
“When I cried out, you answered;
you strengthened my spirit.”
Perhaps we’re all in need of a
spiritual rescue of the type David
describes.  And it isn’t because
of any of the psalmist’s virtues
that he obtains salvation.  It is
a result of God’s loving fidelity.
“Lord, your love is eternal.”

Our God does not forsake the
work of His hands, though who
has given the Lord anything that
he may be repaid?  Unworthy as
we are, and though the Lord is
exalted, He watches over us in our
lowly state.  And thanks be to God,
His kindness endures forever.
St. Paul says the same thing in our
2nd reading,  “But by the grace
of God I am what I am.”

Our psalmist reminds us -- all God
has to do is stretch out his right hand,
and we will be saved.  “You stretch out
your hand, your right hand saves me.”
Jesus made a similar intervention
on behalf of St. Peter and his fishermen
companions in our Gospel reading,
when our Lord astonished Peter
at the catch of fish they had made.
And on that same  day at the Lake
of Gennesaret Jesus empowered Peter
to become a true apostle and a catcher
of men by following the Lord.

Our psalm concludes in a grateful and
affirming theme, showing how Peter
probably felt, as he fell on his face
at the feet of the Lord that day by the lake.
“The Lord is with me to the end.
Lord your love endures forever,
never forsake the work of your hand.”



Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist affirms, 'When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.'   Speak of your own experience
when you were in need of the Lord's help to build up your spiritual vigor.

2.  David pleads with God, 'forsake not the work of your hands.'  
As a child of God, tell of how you can expect the Lord to love you forever unconditionally.