Scripture: Lectionary 281-2013. Acts 12: 24-13:15. Psalm 67:2-126.96.36.199. John 12: 44-50:
From time to time, it is appropriate to meditate on the Psalm Response and its verses. They are part of the liturgical readings at Mass and often have an important message. They also are a way of praying the first reading or the Gospel. They are like the glue that keeps the readings together in a prayerful mode. The Psalms are for the most part of their verses prayers. We use Psalms of praise and thanksgiving most often in our liturgical readings. Today strikes me as an occasion for talking about Psalm 67 in the light of the Acts of the Apostles. Let me explain myself: When I was a member of the Dayton Christian Jewish Dialogue several of us were called to give invocations at Jewish-Christian gatherings other than our own. When I was asked to do this at a large assembly of many different Christian denominations together with persons from the different Jewish religious denominations, I chose our Psalm for today as the opening prayer. It was Jewish all the way through its verses and had a great openness to include the Nations (Gentiles, the “Goyim”).
This Psalm was a blessing psalm for both the ones praying it who were Jews and also a blessing from God upon those who were not from the Jewish faith. I prayed it in Hebrew following it with an English version. This helped both Christians and Jews to pray together from a biblical portion of the Bible. The People of Dayton listened and prayed together for that evening.
This Psalm fits in well with the recent excerpts we have been reading and hearing from the Acts of the Apostles. Saul and Barnabas are now working together with the Gentiles (Greeks, Cypriots, Macedonians, etc.)making them open to being named Christians. Saul, Barnabas, and Jesus, the person of their preaching and teaching are Jews!
This Psalm is a community thanksgiving which contains the beautiful prayer called the Aaronic Blessing which is probably the oldest and most powerful blessing in the Bible: “The Lord bless and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24f.). This blessing was also given at the Museum of Peace in Dayton in its opening some years ago. I was asked to give the blessing and chose to read this in Hebrew where the word Shalom stands out. Peace meaning wholesomeness, well-being, and many other positive connotations. M. Lazarus a Jewish commentator on the Psalms says this of Psalm 67:7: Verse seven would refer to everything and everyone being blessed on the earth through God’s moral view rule and ever-watchful eye. Lazarus states, “that all nations praise God, for his moral government of the world is the highest ‘product’ of the whole of life on earth.” (Soncino, Psalms, p208).
The joyful praises of this Psalm 67 are a fitting way to honor God the Creator with a human heart filled with thanksgiving for the God of all good gifts from above. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.