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A psalm of the heart

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A psalm of the heart

This Sunday, we are treated to Psalm 62, a psalm of the heart:

 

O God, you are my God, for you I long;

God is everyone’s, not just mine, but here the psalmist shows his focus: ‘me & my God’.  Indeed, throughout the psalm, the only pronouns are I, me my, you and your.  It would be unhealthy and unhelpful only to consider our spiritual lives as being ‘me & my God’, but for this psalm, we’re invited to indulge a little in that cosy relationship of ‘just the two of us.’

 

for you my soul is thirsting,
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.

St Augustine famously said, ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you’.  I suppose the quotation is so famous because it hits the spot so accurately.  We have a God-shaped space within us and – on this side of death – it seems to be never completely filled.  The yearning goes on and on.

 

So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

This reminds me of an anecdote told by St John Vianney (the Cure d’Ars):

When I first came to Ars, there was a man who never passed the church without going in. In the morning on his way to work, and in the evening on his way home, he left his spade and pick-axe in the porch, and he spent a long time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Oh! how I loved to see that! I asked him once what he said to Our Lord during the long visits he made Him. Do you know what he told me? “Eh, Monsieur le Curé, I say nothing to Him, I look at Him and He looks at me!” How beautiful, my children, how beautiful!’  (from Eucharistic Meditation #22, available here)

 

For your love is better than life,

Not simply better, but longer-lasting too!

 

my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

And so the inevitable happens.  The cosy ‘me and my God’ relationship can’t contain itself.  God’s love of us is so immense that to respond to it even a little means that our cosy relationship out-grows the ‘inner chamber’ of our hearts and flows into a more evangelical, truly apostolic love of God and – therefore – of neighbour.

 

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.

What do we think of when falling asleep, brushing teeth, driving, hanging out washing?  When our hearts are unguarded and have an idle moment or two, they show us (if we care to take notice) where our riches are.  For the psalmist, his heart is with God.

 

My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.

In those two lines we find the summary of the psalmist’s relationship with God.  The simplicity of it is beautiful: our prayer and works of charity need not be complicated, acknowledged or measured-out.  God only asks for our faithfulness.  We would be wrong to think that God dumps us by the wayside if we are unfaithful, if our prayer lacks fervour or beauty.  For his part, he loves us unconditionally and will not let us down.

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