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Archive for March 15th, 2015


Psalm 51: Miserere

Fra Angelico: Deposition from the Cross (detail)

Fra Angelico: Deposition from the Cross (detail)

Fourth Sunday of Lent: March 15, 2015

The most famous of the lament psalms, often said during the Lenten season, is also called The Miserere and is frequently set to music.

This week in our study of James we are focusing on Chapter 2 in which James brings home the message that words without action are dead, empty, and barren.  Words with action are life, fullness and fruit bearing.  This is the sacrifice our God requires of us.  God does not look for our burnt offerings of first and best fruits. Nor does God delight in our willfulness; rather, God rejoices at our acknowledgment of our broken-heartedness and waywardness. And God certainly rejoices in our homecoming, wishing nothing more than to be with us fully and totally.  In this relationship therefore, we can set aside no room saved for our own littleness of for tiny pettiness.  We are created for bigness, for greatness. This is perhaps why we are always seeking something more than what we have and more than what we are.

In today’s Gospel (John 3:14-21), Jesus describes to Nicodemus just how much God loves the world. Today we might make the best of this opportunity to turn to God to offer our lament or miserere. Psalm 51 is more than an internal and personal act of contrition; this prayer is a statement of our commitment to change and our willingness to witness to what this change has done for us.

Francesco Scarlatti: Miserere mei Deus

Francesco Scarlatti: Miserere mei Deus

And so we pray . . .  Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.  I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners might return to you . . . Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise. 

 Lord, sustain us . . . Lord, open our lips . . . that we may show you our contrition . . . that we may sing our intentional and sincere miserere . . . that we may proclaim your praise.  Accept our offering of brokenness . . . and bring us home to you. 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 11, 2010.

For a music link, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA88AS6Wy_4 

Our next Lenten days we will take us on a journey through Psalms.

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