Monday, March 28, 2016

Psalm for Sunday, April 3, 2016


Psalm 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24  (Read)

“I was hard pressed and falling, 
 but the Lord came to me as savior.” 


Once again we visit this powerful psalm
of praise and thanksgiving. This time the
verses stress the enduring love that God
has for us, so much so that despite the part
we played in crucifying his Son, God went
ahead with His plan to save us.
Jesus’ risen presence among us is living
proof of God’s enduring love. Our psalmist
assures us, “God’s mercy endures forever.”

We may be hard pressed and falling, or
we may be spiritually sick and weakened
by sin. Are we really any different from those
Dr Luke speaks of in today's 1st reading,
any less desperate or in need of the Lord's
healing power and presence in our lives?
(Acts 5:15-16)

Fortunately the Lord comes to us as Savior,
as our psalmist says. And the Lord is present
to us when we are frightened, as He was present
to those frightened disciples in the upper room.
(John 20:19-21)
Who would have been more hard pressed and
falling than they were before Jesus appeared
to them and blessed them and extended his
peace to them? That same source of strength
the psalmist speaks of is available to us –
all we have to do is believe and open our hearts
to receive his saving grace.

As the psalmist says, the Lord is our strength.
He is present to us, just as He was in those early
days of the church described in today's 1st reading
and in today's Gospel of St John.
We may not have the awesome experience 
Thomas had of physically putting our hand in 
the Lord’s side and our fingers into the nail 
marks on his hand, but He is with us.  

We are victorious over death. The Lord’s
deliverance is cause for joy. Just when we were
down, the Lord raises us up. “I was hard pressed
and falling, but the Lord has been my Savior.”
“The joyful shout of victory is heard.”  The verses of 
the Psalm confirm that we are on firm ground after all.

When Thomas put his fingers into the Lord's side,
it was clearly a moment of epiphany for Thomas
and for us as well. Thomas was struck with awe, 
and came to believe in the risen Lord. What does 
it take for us, though we have not seen, to get down 
on our knees and say, “My Lord and my God.”
(John 20: 24-28)

Christ has become our cornerstone, as our
psalmist reminds us. 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.  As the Psalm says, “By the Lord has this 
been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.” This is 
cause for rejoicing -- “This is the day the Lord
has made.”  Along with the disciples and the 
early church, “Let us be glad and rejoice in it.”


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Have you ever been 'hard pressed and falling,' as was our psalmist?   
Describe how the Lord has been your strength and courage in times of trouble.

2.  As the Psalm says, 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.'   Speak of how our Savior has become the rock you can rely on in your life.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Psalm for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016


“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. 
As the psalmist says, “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.

The Psalm 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 are we to do? What is our commission? 
St Peter tells us in today's first reading, “He 
commissioned us to preach to the people and 
testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God.” 
(Acts 10:42)

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 14, 2016

Psalm for Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016


“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. In fact the psalm 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 

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 words of the psalm 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 today's second 
reading that Christ takes the form of a slave, 
obedient even to death for our sake. 
(Philippians 2:7-8)
Isaiah in today's first reading speaks
about the Messiah long before his birth and 
predicts that he will be beaten, and his beard 
will be plucked. (Isaiah 50:4-7)
But the servant does not rebel (as Isaiah tells us).
He knows that he will not be put to shame.

God the Father 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 sinful humanity.

Ultimately God reverses this righteous man’s 
condition.  As our psalmist says, “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.”

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 7, 2016

Psalm for Sunday, March 13, 2016


Psalm 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6  (Read)

“When the Lord brought back the captives
of Zion, we were like men dreaming.” 


What God did for the Israelites, he does
also for us. The Jews were liberated from
being captives of the wicked Babylonians,
and we are liberated from the captivity of sin
by that same God 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 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 affirms,
“The Lord has done great things for us.”
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 Sunday's first 
reading, says the Lord is doing something 
new. (Isaiah 43:19)  St Paul, in the second 
reading, says that faith will lead us to an
“upward calling” in Christ. (Philippians 3:14)

For a better future we must do our part --
we must sow the seeds in order to gain 
repentance.  “Those who sow in tears shall 
reap rejoicing.”  Jesus did not condemn the 
woman caught in adultery – she is given a 
chance to repent and to pass from death 
to life. (John 8:10-11)  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.