the psalmist believed
appearances be damned–
God is just
The above haiku was inspired by reading Psalm 94. In this blog, I am repeating a theme which I mentioned earlier, but it is so important in the religious life of the Psalm writers, that I thought it worth mentioning again. One way to experience the smiling presence of the divine is to care for that for which God cares. In the case of Psalm 94, it includes the widow, the stranger, the orphan.
However, it was a poem by Michael Guite reflecting on Psalm 94 that crystalized my thoughts in this area again. The poem is found in David’s Crown: Sounding the Psalms (London: Canterbury Press, 2021), p. 94.
Psalm 94: XCIV Deus ultionum
My saviour stands and keeps my soul serene
But also sends me back into the world
To speak his word and challenge the obscene
Injustices we take for granted, sold
As we are on systems that preserve
Our privileges and barter truth for gold,
Putting our souls to silence. We reserve
Our judgement, but the psalmist makes it clear
Justice is coming for God’s poor. We serve
Him best if we can also serve them here,
Rise up and take their part against the proud
Deliver them from harassment and fear.
We have been pietistic, quiet, cowed
But we must come out publicly and cry
For equal rights and justice, cry out loud.
May the presence of God be real in our lives as we love what God loves.
This year my high school class is celebrating our reunion virtually. In fact we are celebrating it for several months. One of the ways, is that some of us have been asked to write meditations from time to time. I decided to write on following the teachings of Jesus. The theme of all of my blogs is ways or paths to experiencing the presence of God. One way is to follow the teachings of Jesus. So I will be sharing these on my blog in the months to come.
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Luke and Matthew affirm that Jesus taught this to his disciples. Matthew’s version simply amplifies the plight of the poor, i.e. they are dis-spirited, crushed, without hope.
If we are to take this saying of Jesus seriously, what must we do? Jesus could say that the poor were blessed, because he knew that his followers would care for them as much as they could. We are called to a practical compassion for the poor. We are called to individual actions of charity, but also to support programs the seek to alleviate the suffering of the poor.
This becomes clear in Matthew 25 where the peoples of the world are judged, not on what they believed, but on what they did. The sheep—those on the right of the Son of Man—cared for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, and the imprisoned. Because they acted this way, Jesus said they were blessed by the Father. The goats, on his left, did no such thing and they were cursed.
I honestly don’t claim to know what this all might mean in terms of eternity, but this I know: people following the teachings of Jesus will be more interested in blessing the poor than in shaming or blaming them. We are called to compassion.
This morning I read Luke 1:39-56 which is called The Magnificat or Mary’s Song. One spiritual exercise that I practice occasionally is writing a haiku related to what I have read. I do this to focus my attention on the text and to find some specific meaning for me at this particular point in my life. This is what I wrote:
Mary’s mighty God
Forgets not His promises
To raise the lowly
Afterwards I found myself praying for our President-elect. The prayer went something like this:
That he might care for the poor suffering people of our world and of our nation, I pray that You would soften his heart. Create within him a heart of compassion and give him the wisdom and courage to oppose those who seek only to increase their power and wealth at the expense of the lowly. May Mary’s God be Donald’s God.
Finally, this morning I turned to a meditation by Richard Rohr in Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent. He also looked at the Magnificat. He pointed out that Mary’s Song and the teaching of Jesus both emphasize that attachments to power, prestige, and possessions will numb our hearts and dull our spiritual perception. I believe he is right.
May the God of Mary and of Jesus be our God in 2017