Psalm 17: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IX
Adapted from a Favorite written on December 29, 2009.
Refuge in the Temple
If we go to an Internet search engine and type in the key words “seek refuge in a church,” we may be amazed to see how many articles pop up instantly from places around the globe. Today is the feast day of Thomas Becket, an early British Archbishop murdered in the cathedral of Canterbury. Through ages, humans seek physical, emotional and spiritual shelter in a structure built by human hands. Today’s psalm, commentary informs us, is the lament of an individual unjustly attacked who has taken refuge in a temple. “Confident of being found innocent, the psalmist cries out for God’s just judgment (1-5) and requests divine help against enemies (6-9a). Those ravenous lions (9b-12) should be punished (13-14). The psalm ends with a serene statement of praise (15)”. (Senior 657)
I call upon you; answer me, O God. Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer.
We might seek refuge from our own terrors by looking inward to that place in which Christ dwells in each of us, by searching for and finding that quiet temple within, by being still so that we might hear the words of comfort that will settle our fears.
Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer.
From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day by Jean Vanier who sees Christ identify with the poor when he is born into the world to Mary and Joseph: How can God who is all powerful, all beautiful, and all glorious become so powerless, so little so weak? The logic of love is different from the logic of reason and power. When you love someone, you use her language to be close to her. When you love a child, you speak and play with him as a child. That is how God relates to us. God becomes little so that we will not be frightened of him, so that we can enter into a heart-to-heart relationship of love and communion.
The logic of the world tells us to fight, to beat others out, to be the first, the best, or the brightest. Our culture rarely tells us to take a deep breath and think before we buy, speak, or accuse.
My ravenous enemies press upon me; they close their hearts, fill their mouths with proud roaring.
The logic of love tells us to act for others who are marginalized, to witness, and to take refuge in the temple when we are persecuted. Then we will be filled with God’s presence so that we might better face the challenges before us.
When I awake, let me be filled with your presence.
When we are troubled, when we are accused, when we are anxious in any way, we might turn to the temple for refuge. There we will find a child who embodies the inversion of all that assails us. It will be this child who will show us the way to serenity amid turmoil. It will be this one who will bind up our wounds. It will be this one who fills us with a presence that is more powerful . . . and more loving . . . than any other we can ever know.
So let us begin the new year by packing up our woes, and taking refuge in the temple of God’s vulnerable love.
For more on Thomas Becket, visit the BBC link at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/becket_thomas.shtml
For more on Jean Vanier, visit: http://www.jean-vanier.org/en/home or listen to the interview with Krista Tippet of On Being at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234
Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.12 (2009). Print.
Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 657. Print.