The popularity of the Psalms has endured through the ages because they touch upon the deepest emotions and longings of the human heart. One of my favorites is Psalm 57 which is the first Psalm in Morning Prayer this day.
- Have mercy on me, God, have mercy
- for in you my soul has taken refuge.
- In the shadow of your wings I take refuge
- till the storms of destruction pass by.
- I call to God the Most High,
- to God who has always been my help,
- May He send from heaven and save me
- and shame those who assail me.
- May God send His truth and His love.
- My soul lies down among lions,
- who would devour the sons of men.
- Their teeth are spears and arrows,
- their tongue a sharpened sword.
- O God, arise above the heavens.
- may your glory shine on earth!
- They laid a snare for my steps,
- my soul was bowed down.
- They dug a pit in my path
- but fell in it themselves.
- My heart is ready, O God,
- my heart is ready.
- I will sing, I will sing your praise.
- Awake, my soul,
- awake, lyre and harp,
- I will awake the dawn.
- I will thank you, Lord, among the peoples,
- among the nations I will praise you
- for your love reaches to the heavens
- and your truth to the skies.
- O God, arise above the heavens;
- may your glory shine on earth!
Today is God’s gift to you and me. Let us thank Him and enter this day praising Him!
Last night, I had a lengthy conversation with a 29 year old man who recently moved to Nashville, TN. He is a gifted musician and hopes to develop a career as a Christian musician. I have known him for several years and have come to appreciate his Christian commitment; his desire to be a disciple of Jesus and to witness to Jesus by his life. He is an impressive young man.
Like all of us, he struggles and, at times, he feels weighed down. Last night, he felt weighed down not sure of where God was bringing him. I assured him that God was with him and would bring him where he needed to be – where God wanted him to be, and I suggested to him that he slowly pray from his heart a brief prayer of surrender taken from the Scriptures. It’s a prayer that I often pray. Perhaps you might find it helpful.
“Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will!”
I present myself to the Lord with an open mind and heart and surrender myself. God is with me and will bring me where I need to be – where God wants me to be. All I need to do is surrender.
In today’s Gospel, John 8:21-30, Jesus finds Himself in a confrontational situation with some unfriendly Pharisees. They demand to know: “Who are you?”
This is a question that resounds down through the centuries: “Who are you?” This is a question that confronts each of us. We have doctrinal responses to this question. Jesus is the Son of God. the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus is Our Lord and Savior. But it must be more than just a doctrinal head trip. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict and of so many Christian Saints, what is most important is developing a personal, intimate, love relationship with Jesus. It is in the development of this intimate relationship that we discover who Jesus truly is for each one of us. Knowledge of Jesus then moves from the doctrinal to the personal; from the head to the heart. And then we truly know Him; then it is real!
Today’s first reading, from the 13th chapter of Daniel, tells us the story of Susanna and the two elders of the people. It is high drama and could well be a TV soap opera. I invite you to read it in its entirety. The story has to do with Susanna, a beautiful and God-fearing married woman. Two wicked elders of the people hide in her garden and when she comes to bathe, they try to seduce her. She refuses to cooperate. They accuse her of adultery claiming that they saw her having sex with a young man. They bring her to trial and she is condemned to death. As she is being led out to her death, a young man named Daniel is inspired by God to challenge the two elders. He catches them in a lie; Susanna is vindicated, and they in turn are executed. End of story. Justice triumphs!
When I reflected on this story early this morning, my eyes stayed with the following sentence which refers to the two wicked elders:
“They suppressed their consciences; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments.”
And there it is! They made their choices! They could have turned to God instead they chose to indulge their lust. And so it is with all of us – you and me – we can make choices in time of temptation. We can choose to turn to God and seek His help or we can suppress our consciences and give into temptation.
We have now reached the 5th week of Lent. It’s possible to forget the purpose of our Lenten journey or to get bogged down. Lent is a season of preparation, self-examination and conversion prior to meditating on and celebrating the great mysteries of the Christian faith re-enacted during Holy Week. It’s not too late to do this challenging work. The Responsorial Psalm for today’s Liturgy presents us (it certainly presents me!) with a prayer from the heart:
“Create a clean heart in me, O God”
Is there anyone of us who does not have some garbage festering in our hearts? Now is the time to take a good look into our hearts, name the garbage that we find bringing it out into the Light and asking the Lord for healing.