Daily Readings Reflection for 7/27/11

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Scripture: Lectionary 403: Exodus 34:29-35. Psalm 99:5.6.7.9. Matthew
13:44-46

Wednesday’s Readings

Rarely do we hear a homily or reflection on the Psalm Response and its
verses taken from a given Psalm that ties us into the first reading with a
prayerful praise of God. Today, since the parables have been explained
already in Sunday’s readings, we focus on Psalm 99 with its response and
some of its verses. This is more of a prayer for us than a commentary on
the text. Psalms go straight to the heart when we have a “listening heart”
that receives them. Or as it is said in Hebrew a “Leb Shome’a” (a heart
which listens).

Psalm 99 is both a Psalm of Enthronement of God–for he alone is King in
Israel and Judah. David and Solomon are his kingly representatives. David
has had an influence on the Psalms and Solomon has shared his wisdom with
us.

In turning to our response we get to the heart of our prayer today: “Holy
is the Lord our God.” This is an emphasis on the transcendence and holiness
of God and the Name of God as Adonai. Our attentive response to this
awesome dimension of God’s presence among us helps us to realize the
meaning of the two parables which is making sure we put God first in our
thoughts and decisions. Priorities are important even in prayer. Honoring
and praising God are among the highest priorities–the pearl of great
price, the treasure hidden in the field. All of our relationships, duties,
ministries, and decisions reach their summit when we realize the wisdom of
bringing in God to all of these aspects of our daily life. We then reach
the summit of some of our best achievements as human beings for God is
always present in the bigger picture of ongoing salvation history. Only a
discerning and listening heart can discover this salvific presence of God
and Jesus. This is the work of the Holy Spirit within us as we pray and
meditate on the Psalm for today.

In the three stanzas of the Psalm we are led to the holiness of God. We
have three persons mentioned who were atuned to the holiness of God: Moses,
Aaron, and Samuel (verse 4 of the Psalm). They are among those who called
upon the holy name of the Lord. These are the ones who point to God’s
holiness and they act as intercessor, priest, and prophet between God and
ourselves. This is the only psalm in which three persons are mentioned in
one verse. Verse 3 is a key verse: “Let them praise Thy Name is it great
and awesome.” One priest believes that the word “awesome” should be used
only for God! The Latin version of the Psalm captures the theme perfectly,
“Celebrant nomen tuum magnum et tremendum: sanctum est illud.”

Mitchell Dahood, S.J. who based his three volume book on the Psalms upon
the Ugaritic texts discovered in the last century in Lebanon sums up
another important idea in this Psalm: “The seemingly contradictory
attributes of the forgiving and punishing God can be reconciled. Even in
his grace, Yahweh (Adonai or Lord) remains a holy God. This means that he
severely punishes the sins of men with the same seriousness of the love by
which he forgives sins.” (Dahood, Psalms Vol 2, page 370). Amen.

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