Monday, March 30, 2015

Psalm for Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23  (Read)

“I shall not die, but live.”

Today's Psalm is an Easter song that marks
the procession of the pilgrims going up
to Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles.
The Psalm begins with a call to praise
that starts the procession, “Give thanks 

to the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.”

Israel is continuously put to the test,
humbled and then delivered.  In so doing,

Israel discovers its calling to be a people 
of God and to bear witness to the nations.

Jesus makes this calling his own,
and in the Psalm we read prophetic
verses that recall the paschal mystery 

of Christ, who is rejected and then exalted,
and who becomes the foundation stone
of the new people of God, “I shall not die, 

but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” 

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.  “The stone the builders 
rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Our savior has risen. 
“By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.   Our Response is, "This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad."  On this Easter Sunday,
explain what is the basis of your joy and gladness and how your
life is affected by our exalted Savior.

2.  Our Lord, rejected by the 'builders' of his time,
has become the 'cornerstone' of our lives.   What does it mean
to you to build your faith on the resurrection of Jesus?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Psalm for Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015


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

“They have pierced my hands and my feet.”     

David writes this psalm almost as though
it were planned to be part of the Passion of Christ.
The Psalm's theme is that the sufferings
of the righteous man will restore life to humanity.

The Psalm indeed becomes the prayer of Christ
at the time of His crucifixion and speaks of the
suffering that our Savior experienced on our behalf,
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

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 God deliver him;
 let God 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.  (Mark 15: 31-32)
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.

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.” (Philippians 2:9)


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  The psalmist speaks of those who scoff at him and mock him. 
 In what way can you identify with those who scoff at our Savior
 and mock him with parted lips? 

2.  The Psalm Response is, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"   

Why do you think our Lord would have uttered these words at the time 
of his Passion?  What had changed for God's son?  Had God changed?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Psalm for Sunday, March 22, 2015


Psalm 51: 3-4, 12-13, 14-15  (Read)

“Create a clean heart in me, O God.”                                                                        

This Sunday's Psalm is David’s mea culpa  
and is written after Nathan calls attention 
to David’s adultery with Bathsheba.  We are 
shown in the Psalm that although David was 
chosen by God to be king, even David sins 
gravely.  But God in His compassion and 
goodness can blot out David’s offense, 
no matter how grave.

David realizes that only God, in His mercy,
can cleanse David from his sins.
  David’s sins, 
like our own, are offensive to God first and 
foremost; we are all born of a sinful nature.
David calls on the Lord to blot out his offense,
knowing that the Lord, in His abundant 

compassion, will wash away his guilt.

David’s words are a prayer of repentance and recall 

for us the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“A clean heart create for me, O God; renew within me 

a steadfast spirit. Give me back the joy of your salvation.”
Where else can we turn when we are separated from God?
Who else has the healing power to cleanse us?

“Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me 

your Holy Spirit.”  David reminds us that without the Holy 
Spirit we are ruled by the desires of this world.  And without 
the Holy Spirit we cannot bear the fruits of the Spirit,
which we are called to do.

The people of Jeremiah’s time were given the assurance 

that David sought. They were assured that the Lord would 
forgive their evildoing, their own infidelity to God, and that 
their sin would be remembered no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)
On David's part we can almost hear his loud cries and see 

his tears, as he offers this psalm as prayer and seeks his 
own inner renewal.  When Christ was in the flesh, this is 
how He himself prayed, as we are reminded in Sunday's 
second reading. (Hebrews 5:7)

David prays that God will create for him a clean heart,
because God alone can bring about this transformation.
We, too, are called to seek our Savior’s mercy for our sinful 

ways, especially during this Lenten season.  We, too, are 
given an opportunity to be restored in the joy of His Salvation, 
to offer up what is dead within us, so that we can again bear 
fruit and be good witnesses for the Lord. (John 12: 24)
In that way, we will then teach the wicked,
God's ways,  
and our mouths will proclaim His praise.


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist King David cites the greatness of the Lord's compassion in calling 

upon God to wipe out his offense.  Even though David was an adulterer and 
a murderer, he knew that he could call upon the Lord to restore him and create 
for him a clean heart.   Does this give you confidence that no matter how serious 
your sins may be, you can call upon God to be thoroughly cleansed?   Explain.

2.  As our psalmist implies, it is not enough to call upon God to create a clean 

heart within us.  We must also ask for a steadfast spirit, for the Holy Spirit to be 
sustained within us.  Tell how the Holy Spirit is working within you and what you 
are inspired to do through the gifts of the Spirit.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Psalm for Sunday, March 15, 2015

Psalm 137:  1-2, 3, 4-5, 6  (Read)

“How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?”

This Sunday's Psalm is a prayer of the Jewish people 
in exile in Babylon.  As Sunday's 1st reading tells us,
the Lord became angry with the people of Judah
because of their many infidelities.  (2 Chronicles 36:14-16)
And when they mocked the messenger of God,
God allowed them to be carried off to Babylon as slaves.
“By the rivers of Babylon, we sat mourning and weeping.”

But God's chosen people could not forget Jerusalem
and the covenant God had made with them.  “If I forget 

you Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.  May my tongue 
stick to my palate  if I do not remember you.”   And more 
important, God did not forget them.

It is the same way with us.  We sin against God and He 

allows us to be carried off into a kind of self imposed exile,
where we separate ourselves from Him for a time.

“How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?”
When our hearts are hardened by sin, how can we sing 

a song of the Lord?   When we are in the darkness because 
we prefer the darkness, how can we sing a song of the Lord?
When we are separated from the Lord and indulging in things 

of the world, how can we sing a song of the Lord?
It is only when we are in the light,  then can we sing a song 

of the Lord.

As Sunday’s 2nd reading tells us, “Even when we are dead in our 

transgressions, God brings us to life with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:5)

And the Gospel reminds us in a powerful way that although we 

are a wicked people who hate the light, God sent His Son not to 
condemn us, but to save us and lead us into the light. (John 3: 17-21)
That is how we free ourselves from our own spiritual exile.
It is only when we are in the light, when we become a light unto 

the world, then can we sing a song of the Lord!


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  This Sunday's Psalm Response is,
"Let my tongue be silenced, 

if I ever forget you!"  When you are separated from God because of sin, 
have you noticed how it becomes difficult to praise and worship Him?  
In a way your tongue becomes silenced for a time.  Explain how you 
can get your voice back and start again singing a song of the Lord.

2.  Our psalmist tells us that it was difficult for the Jewish people captive 

in Babylon to sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land. Is it sometimes 
difficult for you to speak of your faith in the company of non-believers?    
If you are being persecuted by a world that does not acknowledge you 
as one of its own, how do you overcome your reticence and speak boldly 
of your faith?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Psalm for Sunday, March 8, 2015


Psalm 19: 8, 9, 10, 11  (Read)

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul."  

This Sunday's Psalm celebrates the law of the Lord, first given to the Israelites when Moses received God's commandments on Mt Sinai. 
(Exodus 20:1-17)

More than a set of rules that we cannot hope to follow, God’s commandments give us wisdom; they ‘rejoice the heart.'  They are 'more desirable than gold, sweeter also than honey.’

Our psalmist David shows us that obeying the law does not prevent us from being happy.   The Psalm 

speaks to us of the joy  that is stirred up in our
hearts when we follow the Lord’s commands. 
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”

Obeying the law brings much reward.  If we are to imitate

the divine life, everything we need to know is found 
in God’s law.

We may think of God's statutes as something intended 

to control us or restrict us, but as our psalmist explains, 
the law of the Lord is in fact something to be desired, 
because the law gives us wisdom and provides us 
with something we can trust.

God's statutes endure forever.  It is through the verses 

of this Psalm that we know His law is a source of spiritual 
refreshment, a source of joy.  His statutes do not bind us;
they set us free.


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Our psalmist says that the ordinances of the Lord are 'sweeter than honey.'   

How can it be that, instead of being harsh, the commandments of the Lord 
are sweet to the taste?  Explain.

2.  Our psalmist says that the commandments of the Lord are a source of joy --

they 'rejoice the heart.'   Tell about how obeying the commandments can be a 
source of joy in your life.