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Archive for February 4th, 2020


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Psalm 120: Nostalgia

Gotovac" Looking Back

Gotovac: Looking Back

“Human beings are born to be pilgrims in search of the Absolute, on a journey to God. We advance by way of stages, from the difficulties of life to the certainties of hope, from the dispersion of cares to the joyous encounter with God, from daily diversions to inner recollection.” (Psalter: New Catholic Version, St Joseph Edition)

This is a Psalm of Ascent, one of the psalms the pilgrims sang on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  These hymns made up a kind of handbook as they progressed; they were also sung by the Levite priests in the Temple as they ascended the steps from the Court of the Women to the Court of the Israelites.

The theme of nostalgia to return to God is what this prayer brings us. A theme of desire to return to sanctuary.  A theme of longing for love and acceptance.  As we journey in exile in a hostile place we often flail against life rather than heeding the advice we hear so often in scripture . . . Be still. 

As the faithful journey from slavery to freedom they are asked to trust in God more than their own resources.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.  (Exodus 14:14)  Let us put our trust in God’s plans more than our own.

When the faithful return to a ruined city and temple they are asked to give thanks for their safe passage through hostile lands.  The Levites calmed all the people saying, “Be still, for this is a sacred day; do not grieve.  (Nehemiah 8:11)  Let us place our hope in God’s power more than our own.

The psalmist reminds us that humility and patience bring about transformation.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him.  (Psalm 37:7Let us live in God’s way rather than our own.

God himself tells us that true providence lies only in God.  Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)  Let us remind one another that only God can restore and renew.

The prophets warn us against using God as a means to an end.  “Ah, sword of the Lord,” you cry, “how long until you rest?  Return to the scabbard; cease and be still”.  (Jeremiah 47:6)  Let us put aside all violence in our individual and communal lives.

The prophets remind us that God is ever-present, even when we feel that all is lost.  Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.  (Zechariah 2:13)  Let us strive to see the world as sees it rather than with our human eyes.

This week as we journey with the Psalms, may you know the blessing of God’s true presence.  May you find the peace to put aside all cares.  And may you find the strength to be still . . . for in this way we will bring to new life what we yearned for with nostalgia.


Image from: http://shawnaleeann.com/?tag=nostalgia

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. Print.

First written on September 25, 2006.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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