“Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”
This past Sunday, the responsorial psalm at Mass, as quoted above was a beautiful one. I especially like the melody we used, to which it was set for liturgical use. Since I am normally the one who leads the psalm for our Sunday Masses at St. Anne’s Living Center, I pay special attention to such things.
Psalm 66 offers encouragement to us to praise God with joy, something that is easy to forget in the busyness of our daily lives. I need to make a conscious effort at giving thanks and praise throughout the day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church so eloquently explains:
Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all… [P]rayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart “We must remember God more often than we draw breath.” But we cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. (CCC 2697)
In meditating upon the psalm (and other readings) at my prayer that morning, the phrase that especially struck me was: “He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river, they passed on foot.”
It spoke to me about God’s ability and willingness to intervene in human lives. When the people of Israel called out to Him in their slavery in Egypt, God appointed Moses, sending him to Pharaoh. He brought His people out of bondage with “a strong arm.” He worked wonders to free them and bring them to the land of promise.
Then the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders. (Deuteronomy 26:8)
Psalm 136:11-14 echoes and elaborates on this thought:
[He} led Israel from their midst, for his mercy endures forever; With mighty hand and outstretched arm, for his mercy endures forever; Who split in two the Red Sea, for his mercy endures forever; And led Israel through its midst, for his mercy endures forever…”
This same pattern of mercy and power, I imagine, can be seen today.
I may not have a terrible sea that I need to cross, pursued by a mortal enemy, but I have my own crosses of daily life, some big, some small.
I, too, can cry out to God, not only in joy but also in sorrow. I can beg His mercy in my need, asking him to rescue me and see me through whatever storm or sea I am facing.
This thought reminds me, too, of the Gospel scene of Jesus calming the storm on the sea (Luke 8:22-25), which is a beautiful one to meditate upon in times of darkness, when my soul seems to be tossed about by winds and the boat of my heart swamped with floods of distress. Like Peter, in a similar scene (Matt. 14), when Jesus came toward their boat, walking on water, I would do well to keep my focus on Christ, rather than on the raging waters.