Speak Lord: A new heart

Inside outThe psalm for the 5th Sunday of Lent in Year B finds the psalmist, and the faithful whose prayer it now is, asking for mercy, for the gift of renewal and healing and communion with God.

These are gifts that all, surely are now looking for after four weeks of Lenten prayer and penance. And none more than those who are preparing for Easter Baptism. However for them a separate psalm is provided in the sequence of passages from Scripture that is provided for the Year A, mandated for use when the Third Scrutiny is celebrated, but also available for use in any year when it is judged pastorally appropriate. (That psalm is provided at the end of this blog).

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Psalm 50:3-4,12-15

The psalmist does not hold back with the self-accusations, nor in the asking for help. There is a simple, powerful desire for the being made new that God alone can achieve.

The passage ends with the psalmist, and the faithful who are praying it, longing to share God’s mercy and healing with others. Here is the engine-room for the New Evangelisation, presently being prompted in England and Wales by Proclaim ’15: deepening in us the knowledge of the active goodness of God, and how it benefits and shapes us, and deepening in us the desire to share that good so others may benefit from it too.

The privilege of sharing the good news and joy of that is something wonderful. It is to share that Good News that the Lord calls anyone and everyone to himself. It is to share that Good News with others that the Lord gifts us with baptism and the vocation it contains. That vocation is, in all sorts of circumstances, helping others to receive and live the Good News of God’s love and care: in our families, workplaces, among our friends, in cabinet rooms and council offices, in the rooms, on the streets, everywhere, always.  No wonder we still pray for help! But, again, what a privilege to be about this work.

  • For what would a pure heart long?
  • For what does my heart long?
  • What soils my heart?
  • What is it that makes me ask for purity?
  • What is it that may make me hold back from asking, receiving or using the gift when it is given?

Photograph of painting on glass by Christophe Rouil, in the church of St Jacques, Liseux, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

– – –

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
(Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.)

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Psalm 129:1-8

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