Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Psalm for Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013


Psalm 118:  1-2, 16-17, 22-23

“This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.”

Jesus’ risen presence among us
is living proof of God’s enduring love.
“God’s love endures forever.”
The Lord’s deliverance is cause for joy.
Just when we were down, the Lord raises
us up.  The joyful shout of deliverance
is heard.  We are on firm ground after all –
Christ has become our cornerstone.

In the Psalm we read in advance of the
Paschal Mystery.  Christ, who is rejected
and then exalted, becomes the foundation
stone of the new People of God --
“I shall not die, but live and declare the
works of the Lord.”  This is Jesus speaking
about His own resurrection and about His food –
which is to do the work of the Father.

As the psalmist says, “The right hand of the
Lord has struck with power; the right hand
of the Lord is exalted.”  Our days of mocking
our Savior are over; we no longer hurl insults
at Him.

Our savior has risen.  “By the Lord has this
been done;  it is wonderful in our eyes.”
'The joyful shout of deliverance is heard in
the tents of the victors.' The psalm celebrates
a great victory over death.  This victory is
delivered by the Lord’s right hand, a clear
notice in advance of the power of the Son of God.

Our risen Savior has defeated death and the
grasp that sin has on us.  And having been saved,
what is our commission?  Luke tells us in
the 1st reading -- we are to preach to the people
and testify that Jesus is the anointed one.

Christ has become our cornerstone.  “The stone
the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Christ has become a source of strength for us,
despite His apparent weakness that day on the cross,
when He died a shameful death.   Only the Lord
could have done this remarkable thing:
“This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The Psalm speaks of a great victory over death, 'I shall not die, but live.'  
Tell of how you share in Christ's victory over death and what this means to you.

2.  Having been saved from death, the psalmist says he will 'declare the works of the Lord.'  
Speak of how you are empowered by our Lord's resurrection to go forth and proclaim the Gospel.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Psalm for Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013


 Psalm 22:  8-9,  17-18,  19-20,  23-24

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

David writes this psalm almost as though
it were planned to be part of the Passion
of Christ.  The psalm also becomes the prayer
of Christ at the time of his crucifixion
and speaks of the suffering that our Savior
experiences on our behalf.

People are the same today as they were
back then, when Jesus was being led to the cross.
We scoff at Him; we mock Him; we wag our heads
and hurl insults at Him.

Because he becomes contemptible in our eyes.
He reminds us that we are a sinful people;
he convicts us; he catches us in the lie;
he embarrasses us; he exposes us; he accuses
us of being hypocrites.  

He holds us to a higher standard;
He speaks directly to God;
He claims to be God's Son;
and we reject him for this; and mock him.
We do not move to assist him.
Let God rescue him –
“He relied on the Lord – let him deliver him;
 let him rescue him, if he loves him.”

These are the same words used by those who
conspired against Jesus when he was dying
on the cross.  They did not realize that the
suffering and death of an innocent servant
would restore life for sinful man.  The words
they spoke were to be fulfilled, not by Jesus
coming down from the cross, but by sinful
humanity like us being delivered, forgiven,
and lifted up.

We are reminded by St. Paul in our 2nd reading
that Christ takes the form of a slave, obedient even
to death for our sake.   Isaiah in our 1st reading speaks
about the Messiah long before his birth and predicts
that he will be beaten and his beard will be plucked.
But the servant does not rebel (as Isaiah tells us).
He knows that he will not be put to shame.
The Lord is not far off, even when Jesus lies hanging
on the cross.

The psalm describes the Passion of Christ, and we know
that what seemed like a moment of weakness for Christ
became a source of strength for the rest of us.
God reverses this righteous man’s condition –
“But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help,
hasten to aid me.” 

Hope returns, the righteous man is delivered, and he
celebrates his deliverance – “I will proclaim your name
to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will
praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him.”

Because Jesus humbled himself and accepted death
on the cross, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed
on him the name that is above every name.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.   Were you part of the crowd of evildoers who closed in on Christ,
 that our psalmist speaks about?   Tell of what part you play even today in mocking Christ.

2.   The psalm asks, 'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'
 Do you believe that our Lord was truly abandoned by the Father?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Psalm for Sunday, March 17, 2013


Psalm 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

“When the Lord restored the captives of Zion, 

we thought we were dreaming.”  

What the Lord did for the Israelites, he does 
also for us.   The Jews were liberated from their 
captivity by the wicked Babylonians, and we 
are liberated from the captivity of sin by that same
Lord who sent His Son to save us.    Just as the 
woman in the Gospel this Sunday is saved from 
being stoned to death, Jesus redeems all of us 
from our wicked ways.

God takes pleasure in restoring us, as the psalmist
says, and his pleasure is reflected by the joy in 
our hearts when we are reconciled with Him.  
“Our mouths [are] filled with laughter; our tongues
[sing] with joy.”  It may seem like we are dreaming
when we make our own Exodus from our past lives
of disobedience.  The future may be filled with a few
of our own “dry stream beds,” but if we are diligent 
and sow the seeds of repentance, we will be rewarded
with a bountiful harvest and as the psalmist says, 
“we will reap with cries of joy.”

We join with our psalmist who says,  “The Lord has

done great things for us,” because there is good 
news for us too -- we have the Messiah to lead
us in our own spiritual Exodus, away from slavery to sin,
and put us under the gentle yoke of Christ our Savior.


This is a message of hope; it is a calling that is future
oriented – Isaiah, in our 1st reading, says the Lord
is doing something new; St. Paul (2nd reading) says
that faith will lead us to an “upward calling” in Christ,
and to the goal of our own resurrection from the dead.

For a better future we must do our part -- we must 

sow the seeds in order to gain repentance.
“Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.”
Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery – 

she is given a chance to repent and to pass from death 
to life.  In the same way a seed dies and produces a 
harvest – “Those who go forth weeping, carrying 
sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying
their bundled sheaves.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist speaks of the the Jewish captives being set free
 and brought back from Babylon.   Tell of your own liberation
 this Lenten season from being captive to sin.

2.  The psalm contains a message of hope for us all -- that we shall
reap joyfully in the days ahead.  Share how you expect to be raised up
with the Lord as we approach our Easter celebration.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Psalm for Sunday, March 10, 2013


Psalm 34: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7


“Look to God that you may be radiant with joy, 
and your faces may not blush for shame.”

Where does our joy come from? How do we 
obtain a joyful spirit?  It comes from repenting
and returning to the Lord, like the Prodigal son 
does in our Gospel reading.  Only then can we 
be embraced by the Lord.  Having humbled 
ourselves before Him, confessed our sins,
he takes us back. Like the Prodigal's father,
He watches for us each day, encouraging us 
to lift our bodies out of our shame and return 
to Him, to be reconciled, to be restored, in a 
right relationship with the Father.  

“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 the
Israelites stood that day on the plains of Jericho – 
totally dependent on God for deliverance, as in 
our 1st reading this Sunday. 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.”

Our Father watches for us each day, encouraging us. 
He reconciles us and restores us, and He provides
the inner strength we need to complete our own 

spiritual journey.

As St. Paul says, in our 2nd reading this Sunday, 
we are reconciled to God through Christ, and 
we become ambassadors for Christ.

Discussion Questions for Reflection
1.  Our psalmist looks to God so that his face may 
not blush for shame.  Explain how you are overcoming 
your own shame this Lenten season, by looking to the 
Lord, repenting, and becoming radiant with joy.

2.  The Psalm's verses talk about those who are poor 
in spirit, totally dependent on God.   Speak about how you 
rely on the Lord for deliverance and are saved by the Lord.