January 22, 2014

Psalm 57

…in the shadow of thy wings I will take refuge,

till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfils his purpose for me.
(Psalm 57: 1b-2)

The title says the psalm is from the time “when David fled from Saul, in the cave.” 1 Samuel 24 is both instructive and humorous. David was hiding with his small band of men deep in a dark cave and feeling very much under threat when Saul and his troops came looking for him. Saul didn’t know David was in the cave, but needing to relieve himself Saul came to the cave, lifted up his long robes and squatted down. Meanwhile David stretched forward quietly with his knife and sliced-off a piece of the robe as it lay on the ground. When Saul had finished his business and gone back down the hill David came out, called to Saul and displayed the cut-off from Saul’s robe.  He could have killed him then and there. But no matter how badly Saul had treated him David refused to act in the same way.

I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me upon you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. (1 Sam 24:11-13).

Saul for the moment is stunned and ashamed, and departs, leaving David safe for the time being.

* * *

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let thy glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:5,11 (=Psalm 108:5)

This verse is linked with our Lord’s Ascension and is prayed by the priest after Communion as he censes the chalice and diskos before taking them to the table of preparation. In the long history of the Divine Liturgy and its interpretation, one of the later strands considers the Liturgy a symbolic drama of Christ’s life. Hence at the end of the Liturgy this reference to the Ascension, while at the beginning, during proskomedia as the gifts are prepared there are pointers to Bethlehem: “The star came and stood over the place where the young child lay.” It is also common to have an icon of the Nativity over the table of preparation.

Washington DC March for Life

March for Life

Despite the snow and bitterly cold weather in Washington DC, thousands are arriving from all over the US to participate in the March for Life. In the car with His Beatitude, Father Eric, and Roman Ostash, it took us nine hours to drive yesterday from Long Island (should have been five) as the snow came down continually. But others had it worse. At a rest-stop in New Jersey we encontered a group of Catholic priests, nuns, and high-school students from the Archdiocese of Hartford: both their buses had broken down in the harsh weather and they were waiting for replacements to arrive from Connecticut.

Last night Archbishop Nathaniel joined Antiochian Bishop John (Abdalah) as guests at the special mass at the Catholic National Shrine. This morning I will be at the interdenominational National Prayer Service for Life at Constitution Hall. Then we will all gather at the Mall at 12 noon for the opening prayers, speeches and start of the march.